Free State Project Early Mover: Rep. Keith Ammon
Representative Keith Ammon is serving at the New Hampshire House of Representatives, representing Hillsborough District 40, which covers four towns: Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, and New Boston, NH. Ammon moved to New Hampshire from Pennsylvania as part of the Free State Project in 2009. He also served on the New Boston school board from 2012-2015.
New Hampshire Liberty Alliance
Keith Ammon serves as Political Director of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, a non-partisan coalition that works to increase individual freedoms in NH by monitoring bills in the legislative sessions. The NHLA reviews and evaluates liberty-sensitive bills based on how they effect civil liberties, personal responsibility, property rights, accountability, constitutionality, affordability, regulation, fiscal impact, and taxation.
From this evaluation process, they publish a weekly handout called The Gold Standard that is distributed to members of the NH House of Representatives prior to their vote to inform them as to whether the bills up for vote are pro-liberty or anti-liberty, and whether they increase or decrease the budget.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are gaining popularity in New Hampshire, and Rep. Ammon has been pushing for larger adoption of these alternate currencies at the NH State House. A recent article titled “Meet the New Hampshire Legislators Pushing for Bitcoin Adoption” quoted Ammon as saying:
In reality, Bitcoin and blockchain tech have the potential to make governments obsolete. I believe, governments, once they figure out what a powerful invention it is, will become more hostile to Bitcoin over time. Another [saving grace] is that most legislators are far from technologically savvy, so they’re usually playing catch up when it comes to regulating technology. My hope is that crypto anarchists continue to stay one step ahead of stifling legislation and that this breakthrough new technology has the chance to grow to its full potential.” —Rep. Keith Ammon
Rep. Ammon was a co-sponsor behind the defeated Bill HB552, which would have required the government to develop an implementation plan for the state to accept Bitcoin as payment for taxes and fees. Even without the passing of this bill, the decentralized network behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies gives Rep. Ammon hope for their continued adoption, with or without the government’s approval, noting how difficult it is to “put the genie back in the box.”
Alternative Voting Methods
Bills HB1265 & HB1521 were recently co-sponsored by Rep. Ammon to allow “approval voting“, which differs from the current system of plurality voting. Approval voting would allow people to vote for more than one candidate, allowing voters to truly reflect their opinion by removing the need for tactical voting, or “gaming the system,” whereby a primary voter selects a candidate based on the fact that they think they have the best chance of winning the main election.
Jameson Quinn, a Harvard University Ph.D. candidate in statistics who’s also on the board of the Center for Election Science, testified in favor of both of these bills. Alternative voting systems such as approval voting are often popular with third-party candidates because it can make it easier for them to get votes. Rep. Ammon told the Concord Monitor: “You hear people say they are voting for the lesser of two evils. With approval voting, you don’t have to do that.”