Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vote for none of the above

We here in Tennessee were lucky this election go-round. We actually had two good candidates from which to choose. I wish we could have sent both Harold and Bob to Washington. Bob because he is an outsider and from my hometown (remember: "All politics is local," and besides, I couldn't very well chastise Tennesseans for not voting for Gore in 2000 as a favorite son, and then not do the same thing myself), and Harold, because he is a Washington insider but appears to be a decent human being which we certainly could use more of in Washington.

Other states did not have such a good choice – you know which ones you are – it has happened here many times before and in races other than ones for national political position.

Why don't we add "None of the above" as a selection on the ballot? If it gets more votes than any of the other candidates, then we have to have another election in which neither of the candidates running can run again. Parties selection their candidate in primaries and that’s all well and good and as American as anything else that claims to be American, but the general electorate should have to option of saying no, we don't like what you offered, go back and do it again.

Make the system work for us. If we don't like our choices, may the system – the major political parties – choose someone for whom we can vote. Things happen during the run up to the general election. The best man (or woman) doesn't always get selected. Special interest may select the candidate, but what is good for a special interest may not be good for the majority of us. You don't have to "throw the bums out" if you never elect them.
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Anonymous 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

Director, Voters for None of the Above

11/14/2006 6:42 PM  

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