Foresight 2020: Nevada’s “None of the Above” option

A new series exploring ways to fix our broken electoral process - other than by talking about it every four years

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

With only four sleeps to go until the big Election Day, many Americans are taking their deep breaths and resentfully choosing a presidential candidate to lead the free world, the capstone to a race that’s left an arguable supermajority of us feeling like, “Seriously? These are the choices?”

Well, in support of improved options on the ballot, MuckRock would like to draw your attention to more ways our election systems are working or failing, beginning with a friendly option open to Nevada residents: the “None of These Candidates” vote.

The option was introduced in the mid-1970s, in the wake of Watergate and general government distrust, and it has served as a protest vote for those who would like to participate in our democracy but find the actual representatives not up-to-snuff.

During the last election cycle, the Republican National Committee challenged the constitutionality of the law. Even if the majority of votes went to the third-party non-option, the state deems the person with the most votes the winner. But in Nevada, a potentially key swing state at the time, the GOP worried about the vote’s effect.

Barack Obama ended up defeating Mitt Romney in Nevada, by more than the nearly 6000 votes awarded to None of These Candidates.

And the courts decided that Nevada was okay allowing such an option on their ballots, despite its repercussions on major party nerves. The Supreme Court wouldn’t hear an appeal.

Which seems to suggest that for the rest of us, if we want a major party protest candidate, one route to take would be to allow that candidate a permanent place on our state ballots.

As we move forward a more jaded democracy, we should consider that one needn’t belie one’s principles to endorse just any available candidate out of necessity, that the abstention from a vote in a democracy can be considered a vote too, that maybe we should be able to say “None of You Fools” represents us.


Image via Dark Sound Lab on YouTube