Monday, November 06, 2006

"None of the above"

A nice feature of the new touch-screen voting machines--it's easier to write in a vote. Why would I want to write in a vote? ...just to record my dissatisfaction with the candidates on the ballot.

I've started to write "none" as write-in votes when I'm unhappy with the candidates. I prefer this over simply not voting for two reasons

  1. It's clear that I am paying attention, and I bothered to turn out to vote, and am explicitly rejecting the candidates on the ballot.
  2. It is actually counted in the vote total, thereby decreasing the portion of the votes captured by the winning candidate.
Happy election.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why not "None of the Above" (NOTA) on the ballot? In a democracy, government must obtain the consent of the governed. All legitimate consent requires the ability to withhold consent. A binding NOTA on the ballot enables voters to withhold their consent in an election to office, just as voters can cast a "No" vote on a ballot question.

Any state could enact a Voter Consent law requiring a votable line, "None of the Above" (NOTA), at the end of the candidate list for each office, giving voters the ballot option to reject all candidates for an office. If NOTA gets more votes than any candidate for that office, then no candidate is elected and a new by-election, with new candidates, is called fill such offices. While NOTA by-elections are an expense, they would not occur unless voters voted to hold them, and they are likely to be less costly than electing unacceptable candidates to office. An example of Voter Consent legislation with a binding NOTA ballot option can be found at

With a NOTA ballot option, voters make the final decision about the choices political parties made, rather than those parties deciding the final choices voters can make. Even candidates running unopposed would have to obtain voter consent to be elected. And all political parties would know their selected candidates must face NOTA as well as any opponent, reducing the incentives for negative campaigning and "lesser evil" candidates. Buying "access" to candidates or determining election outcomes with contributions becomes a more uncertain enterprise. Surely a Voter Consent law will not solve all the problems with democratically governing ourselves; however, it seems to me a reasonable, fair, and workable improvement, returning some power to "We the People", from whom our constitution draws its legitimacy, and taking some power from political parties and corporations, whom our constitution never mentions.

In the meantime, for voters who do not vote for any candidate for an office, or do not vote at all, because of dissatisfaction with all candidates, I suggest voting and writing-in "None of the Above" as a clear way to withhold consent as well as to call for enactment of a Voter Consent law.

William H. White