Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2017

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Sun Editorial:

A vote for ‘none’

Nevada ballot option helps voters, it doesn’t disenfranchise them

Other views

See what others say about the only-in-Nevada ballot provision: Readers sound off on "none," and UNLV political scientist David Damore dissects the arguments.

A federal lawsuit filed this month challenges a Nevada tradition by seeking to toss “none of these candidates” off the fall ballot.

Nevada is the only state that allows voters to cast a vote for “none,” and the lawsuit says the provision “disenfranchises” voters because Nevadans who choose it are essentially throwing their vote away.

Several prominent Republicans are involved in the lawsuit — former Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury is a plaintiff — and Sun columnist Jon Ralston reported last week that the Republican National Committee is financially supporting the lawsuit.

Why would they want to take away voters’ rights? Technically, it’s like skipping a race because “none” can’t win an election; if it outpolls the candidates, the first runner-up wins. Voters are allowed to not vote in a particular race, so that shouldn’t be the issue. “None” simply provides voters a way to express their dissatisfaction about the ballot choices.

And certainly, Republicans can’t believe that Nevadans don’t really understand what they’re doing when they vote for “none,” can they?

Republicans are apparently concerned about their presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who has had trouble gaining the support of the conservative base. If dissatisfied conservatives vote for “none” rather than Romney, it could cost him a close election.

Of course, they put it in much more noble language. One official told Ralston that the lawsuit wanted to “bring clarity” in the election. That seems odd to us. Clarity to what? Nevadans aren’t confused. They’ve had “none” as an option on statewide and federal races since the late ’70s.

The argument is ridiculous, and we hope a judge quickly dispatches it.

Although “none” can’t win, that doesn’t mean that it’s a wasted vote. It is a way to send a clear message that voters don’t think anyone is qualified for the office. It provides a great option in those elections where a voter might otherwise skip a race or plug her nose to make a choice because of lackluster candidates.

A vote for “none” is a clear expression of a voter’s voice, which is exactly what elections are supposed to be about. The parties should see those votes as a message that they have failed to provide quality candidates, but instead of trying to improve the candidate pool, Republicans are trying to toss “none.”

Nevadans have a right to vote for “none of these candidates.” Whether it’s wise to vote for “none” is a matter left to the voters, and we trust Nevadans with that choice. Republicans should do the same and drop the lawsuit.

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