Las Vegas Sun

October 31, 2014

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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: [email protected]. 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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  1. One possibility would be if "none of these candidates" wins a majority, a special election to fill the vacancy would be held with all the rejected candidates excluded. That might have Constitutional issues though.

    A better idea is for Nevada to adopt an open primary where all registered voters could vote in a primary for all candidates for the office. If no one gets 50% plus one vote, the top two run off in the general election even if they are in the same political party. Political parties would hate an open primary which is why I would love it.

  2. We're not here for the benefit of one candidate or another. They are here for our benefit (or, used to be). The option of "None of the Above" is clearly a choice for the voter to make - not some party official. Once again, as in the choice of Michael McDonald, Republicrats shoot themselves in the foot. As for the "open primary" Jim Weber proposes, I have advocated that for years. As long as we, the taxpayers, foot the bill for primary elections, we should be able to vote for or, better yet, against, any candidate. If the primaries are open only to those with allegiance to one party or another, then the party should foot the bill.

  3. "None of the candidates" should not be an option for voters. If you take a test would you choose I don't know as the answer. It's the same.

    The recent voting statistics show that 19 percent of Nevadans voted and only 16 percent in Las Vegas. How sad that Nevadan voters take the privilege so cavalierly. Or maybe they forgot that they could vote for "None of the candidates."

    CarmineD

  4. Makes sense; we're getting corporate hobson's choices anyway. Dueling bandaids with no solutions.

  5. I say leave it be.

    It's very important the "none" vote be on the ballot. Especially for this upcoming election.

    If it is taken away, how are the moderate, sane Republican Party members going to vote?

    They'll have to stay at home.

    It's a given fact they won't vote for President Obama.

    But these moderates, the ones who haven't went over to the dark side into ultra-conservative Fox News transfixed watching nutballism, are definitely not going to vote for Romney.

    So, leave it. Don't force the moderate Republicans, the ones who haven't went Tea Party, the ones who actually believe in conservatism and not this abomination the Tea/Republican Party has turned into nowadays, to vote for the Fox News candidate.

    I swear that someday soon, the Tea/Republicans are going to fix their party. They HAVE to. Because the way they are going now, being emboldened to go even more nutty as each passing day goes by, that can't last. Or they will go the way of the dinosaur. Extinction.

  6. With the "none of the above" as an option for voters at least they will still come to the voting booths.If we remove it as a choice this might convince more voters to stay at home. Most voters who use the "none of the above" option may only use it against one candidate on the ticket and vote yes to all the others. Something to think about.

  7. Even if you eliminate "None of these Candidates" as a choice, you can skip making a selection in any contest when you vote.

  8. It seems that some people may never have taken a test where the 'correct' answer was 'none of the above'. Sometimes that is the right answer on a test and sometimes it is the right answer on a ballot. You can always skip choosing in either case, although you miss having your feelings tallied. Part of the reason it is a problem is that we do allow plurality wins in most elections, so the person with the most votes wins, but they do not need to get over 50%. That is probably a bigger problem but one that can easily be fixed with something like instant runoff elections. But then you have to decide what to do if 'none of the above' gets the majority in the end. It should probably be another election with none of the original candidates. In heavily partisan elections, you could easily end up with one side saying my person or nobody and the other side doing the same and if neither had a majority, NOTA would win. But that might serve to drive the candidates from both sides in from the fringe and more toward the middle since they would want to minimize the NOTA vote and get some second choice votes on the other side.

  9. EXACTLY: "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."

    Also, commenter Jim Weber has a balanced take on the situation. There is a sense of VOTER EMPOWERMENT with being able to "vote for non of the above."

    Comparing government election voting to taking some type of exam/test, is comparing apples to oranges here. Also think, Jeff from Las Vegas' idea to register online and vote by mail only is a great suggestion. With folks who are limited due to health concerns, pressing family and outside obligations, and conserving fuel, this idea accommodates them quite neatly so that they may participate in our political process effectively.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  10. "...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."

    Huffman -- so the plaintiffs are trying to force a voting choice on the rest of us. Seems "none" is a legitimate choice as a vote of no confidence in any of the candidates, as you described. I'd love to see what their grounds are for "it violates the Constitution."

    "Dueling bandaids with no solutions."

    hookershaky -- well said!

    "...no man is good enough to govern another man, without that other's consent. I say this is the leading principle -- the sheet anchor of American republicanism..." -- Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Peoria, Illinois, October 16, 1854

  11. I support keeping the "None of the above" option for people who have not completely given up on their right to vote and be heard, in spite of the failure of a two party system resulting in a major dysfunction, and the "sold to the highest bidder" status.

    I suggest that another 2 categories be added at the top of the ballot. "All Republicans" and "All Democrats" for the partisan drones.

  12. Mr. Pizzo:

    Note this excerpt from Matt's article:

    "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.""

    Unless I'm reading this wrong, and I may, this means a "none" selection anywhere automatically voids the entire ballot not just the one race.

    CarmineD

  13. I would like vote by mail if I could have a return receipt to verify it was received. However, I would still have to go to the post office and wait in line to get a return receipt, so I might as well go to my polling place.

  14. "you could always deliver it yourself." Jeffery

    Really Jeffery? If you have to deliver the completed ballot yourself, then you might as well vote in person. What benefit to hand delivery is there over actual voting? Think carefully now. Come on you can figure it out. Clue: None.

    CarmineD

  15. Carmine,I beleive if I am voting in a election for President,listing a Democrat,Republican,or Independent.If I decide on none of the above,I should be able to move on to the next set of candidates running for various positions and vote for this person.If I am wrong on this everyone please except my apology.

  16. Mr. Pizzo:

    The verbage is confusing and like you I would appreciate the clarification.

    CarmineD

  17. Jeffery:

    Can the con and stick to the matter at hand: Your scatological argument for hand delivery of voting ballots in lieu of voting in person.

    CarmineD

  18. Jeffery:

    There is no debate when you are comfortably cemented permanently in the dumb zone on this illogical argument of yours. All you need is a corner and the dunce hat to make it complete. I'm sure you probably still have both.

    CarmineD

  19. Only 19% voted statewide & 16% in LV? And you think that's bad, CarmineD? I don't. Those who voted obviously care; those who didn't probably belong to the "dumb as dirt" crew who can't name one of the 2 Senators from NV; don't know the name of the Governor; can't identify recent past presidents from photos shown to them; but know who Lady Gaga is. We're better off if those morons don't vote. Besides, it makes the our votes much more influential in deciding who gets to shaft us once they are in office!

  20. "Have you ever voted for "none of these candidates"?"

    Matt et al:

    No one here answered your question. There can be a few reasons: One, they never have. If so, it makes the case that having the "none" option is meaningless. Two, they did, but don't want to admit they have. If so, they don't have the courage of their convictions. A big to do over nothing. Again, indicating the "none" option is moot.

    If you're going to vote, then vote. If not, then don't. Going to vote and then not voting makes as much sense as going to the buffet of your choice because you're hungry and then not eating saying there is nothing there you like. Can't have it both ways.

    CarmineD

  21. Jeffery:

    As usual your posts are irrelavant to the issue at hand.

    CarmineD

  22. BTW, at one time unions were relevant and necessary. Not any more.

    CarmineD

  23. Mr. Fink:

    You're too funny. I luv it!

    CarmineD

  24. It would be great if WE ALL could stick to the subject matter, and leave the name calling out of the picture.

  25. Obama's Executive Order deals with a policy and a priority regarding deportation.

    It is not a permanent rule or law. It can be revised by a future President. However, he can legally create Executive Orders that gives a priority on deportation.

    The illegal immigrants are not ultimately protected from deportation, it is only delayed based on priorities.

    At least if they are finally deported to a country they barely remember, they can have a way of making a living, and may have saved some money for establishing a new life in an almost foreign country to them.

    If our dysfunctional Congress can get it's act together, they have the final say on actual immigration reform.

    The issue is seen differently even within the parties, often depending on constituencies.

    Obama did what any politician does today, appeal to a segment of the electorate for votes through perks, to religious interests, subsides, taxation benefits, and pork barrel projects. It isn't limited to one party or the other, Presidents or Congresswo/men. Unfortunately, it is standard operating procedure, and criticized by the opposition.

  26. I wouldn't be surprised to see Romney counter Obama's action by selecting a Hispanic to run as his VP.