Las Vegas Sun

June 30, 2015

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Letter to the readers:

Is ‘none’ a proper vote?

Lawsuit says Nevada’s unique ballot provision is unconstitutional

Dear reader,

Since 1976, Nevadans have had the ability to vote for “none of these candidates” in federal and statewide races.

On Tuesday, the day of the primary election, a group of voters filed a federal lawsuit seeking to toss “none” off the fall ballot, alleging that it violates the Constitution and federal election laws.

Nevada is the only state that allows voters such an option, but as a battleground state in the presidential election, the parties are fighting for every vote. As Sun columnist and political commentator Jon Ralston first reported, a group of voters, including some prominent Republicans, filed the lawsuit aimed at generating more votes. Ralston posted the suit on his blog.

The lawsuit claims that the provision disenfranchises voters because it “expressly and unequivocally requires state officials to disregard legally cast votes from properly registered and duly qualified voters.”

In other words, casting a vote for “none” is throwing your vote away, and if you do that, you’ve apparently disenfranchised yourself because “none” can’t win an election. If “none” gets more votes than any other candidate, the person with the next highest vote total wins.

The lawsuit wants to force people to choose between candidates, arguing that without “none” on the ballot in the races for president and senator, voters will “cast their votes for one of the candidates running for those offices, including Gov. (Mitt) Romney and Sen. (Dean) Heller.” As an example, the lawsuit cites a Republican who says he plans to vote for “none,” adding that if he doesn’t have that option, he’ll pick Romney.

The lawsuit also argues that this is larger than just the individual who picks “none” being disenfranchised. Using one plaintiff to try to make the point, it says that without the “none” choice, “his desired candidates have an increased chance of receiving additional votes, thereby adding to the efficacy of his own vote and the likelihood that it will prevail.”

The lawsuit assumes that people who would vote for “none,” which is typically a small percentage, would vote for someone instead of skipping a race.

But is “none” really throwing your vote away? Over the years, the supporters of “none” have argued that it serves a great purpose: It gives people a way to make a clear statement about their views on a race if they don’t like the candidates.

What do you think? Have you ever voted for “none of these candidates”? Do you like having it on the ballot? Let us know.

You can leave a comment or send your thoughts to: “None of these” c/o Letters to the editor, Las Vegas Sun, 2360 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074. Or send a letter via email: letters@lasvegassun.com. Or fax: (702) 383-7264. If you email, please put “None comment” in the subject line. (Clicking on the previous link should put it there automatically.)

Also, a few weeks ago, we wrote about growing up in Las Vegas and asked for your feedback. We have received some great feedback and will publish some of the comments in the next few weeks. So, you still have time to get your comments by sending us a letter, fax or email. You can see the original letter here. To email about growing up, you can click here.

Best,

Matt

Matt Hufman is editor of the editorial and opinion pages. Follow on Twitter @MattattheSun.

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