Wednesday, August 6, 2008

None of the Above

NOTA in a nutshell:
Every election in the state of Tennessee should include the ballot option of, "None Of The Above". If NOTA receives the most votes a special election would then be arranged to have another go at it. If NOTA doesn't win -- it still serves as a valuable gauge of voter opinion.

A candidate who wins an election including a NOTA option has the right to genuinely claim victory. This should appeal to honest public servants. It would give them a credibility that many of them don't currently enjoy.

All legitimate consent requires the ability to withhold consent, and the legitimate consent of voters requires that voters be able to withhold consent to elections to office.

What 'Voters for None of the Above' is
We are a nonpartisan organization dedicated to enacting Voter Consent laws, giving voters the ballot option to reject all candidates for an office and to call for a new election with new candidates to fill that office.

We take no position on any other issue; we neither endorse nor oppose any candidacy or party. We welcome the support of all who want to enact Voter Consent laws.
How a binding "None of the Above" on the ballot works
In any state with a permanent, binding "None of the Above" on the ballot, the list of candidates for each office would be followed by the votable line "NOTA - For a new election", or something similar.

If NOTA gets more votes than any candidate for the office, then no one is elected to that office; instead, a follow-up by-election with new candidates must be held to fill that office, until a candidate wins a plurality of votes among all other candidates including "None of the Above." "None of the Above" on the ballot has many thoughtful advocates, including The Wall Street Journal and RalphNader . Nevada has had a non-binding NOTA on the ballot since 1976. (See NOTA options for the full range of binding and non-binding NOTA Voter Consent ballot options.)
How Voter Consent Options can be placed on the ballot
In the United States, except for the offices of President and Vice President, elections for all local, state and federal offices are controlled for the most part by the laws of each state, matters such as nomination requirements, runoffs and by-elections are left largely to the states.

So state election laws can specify methods of election such as runoffs and "None of the Above" Voter Consent ballot option. as they have in Nevada.
Why Voter Consent Ballot Options, such as a permanent, binding "None of the Above" on the ballot, are a good idea
• All legitimate consent requires the ability to withhold consent; "None of the Above" gives the voter the ballot option to withhold consent from an election to office, just as voters can cast a "No" vote on a ballot question.

• Would end the "must hire" elections where voters are often forced to vote for the least unacceptable candidate, the all too familiar "lesser evil."

• A candidate must obtain voter consent to be elected, even if running unopposed.

• Voters would decide the fate of the political parties' choices, instead of the parties deciding the voters' choices.

• It should reduce negative campaigning by encouraging candidates to campaign for their own candidacy rather than against their opponent's candidacy.

• Many voters and non voters, who now register their disapproval of all candidates for an office by not voting, could cast a meaningful vote.

• The meaning of elections should become more clear, since voters would no longer be tempted to vote for a presumed losing candidate, with whom they really do not agree, as a protest vote.

• Establishes flexible, voter controlled term limits of one term for every office, as the framers of the U.S. Constitution intended.

• Campaign contributors who give to all candidates to insure "access" would no longer be sure they backed the winner; in general, buying elections should become a more uncertain enterprise.

• Improves checks and balances between voters and political parties, especially needed in jurisdictions with one dominant political party or nearly identical alternatives.

• Political parties would nominate candidates knowing those candidates must be a better choice for voters than "None of the Above."

• Follow-up by-elections are far less costly than electing unacceptable candidates to office.

• Office holders, knowing they face "None of the Above" in the next election, would be encouraged to insure their re-election by focusing more on doing a good job in office and less on attempting to prevent the emergence of an effective opposition candidate.

• When pre-election polls include "None of the Above", the feedback from voters should help guide candidates and parties.

• Even when "None of the Above" does not win or is a non-binding NOTA, the reported NOTA vote would help identify those offices for which voters might be more receptive to new candidates in a future election as well as limits the winner's mandate.

• Provides a permanent option for voters to withhold consent that is independent of expensive and infrequent candidate based "reform" movements.

• Should make public service more attractive by improving the quality of those elected to office.

• Opportunities for election fraud should be reduced because fewer blank votes for an office would be cast.

• Applies to all candidates and parties equally.

• It is a relatively simple, fair, sensible, accomplishable and permanent improvement to our current system, hopefully making for a more democratic and ultimately stronger America.

Feb 8, 2007: Iowa House File 279 - Introduced by Representative Chuck Gipp, Majority Leader
"...if the choice "None of These Candidates" receives a simple majority of the total votes cast for that office, no person shall be declared elected, and the governorshall order a special election..."

Disaffected voters turn to 'none of the above'
"YouGov's latest survey for The Daily Telegraph suggests that the principal political divide nowadays is not between the Conservatives and Labour but between the British people and almost the whole of the country's political class."

None-of-the-above party gets 36%
"Fully 36 per cent -- a huge proportion by post-war standards -- seem disposed to turn their backs on the whole lot. Never before has the None-of-the-Above Party recruited so many adherents."

End undervote with opt-out option
"We should demand that there be a 'None of the above' or 'Skip this race/issue' option on every ballot, whether paper or electronic."

Political History of Nevada - None of These Candidates
"State Assemblyman Don Mello sponsored the 1975 legislation to stimulate voter turnout by providing an alternative to voting for candidates who are either not popular or little known. Another goal of the measure is to allow voters to express dissatisfaction with the quality of candidates or the nature of election campaigns."

In support of 'None of these candidates'
"It's an expression of protest, not a wasted vote"

Is 'none of the above' a Zippy idea?
"...70 percent of his listeners who responded to an online poll said they'd rather vote for Zippy the Squirrel than Rod Blagojevich or Judy Baar Topinka in Illinois' upcoming gubernatorial election."

Figures Show Many Polk County Voters, But Where Are They?
"I think people are fed up with the Republicans and Democrats doing business as usual. People want new ideas and an openness that is not connected to the big money being given to candidates in the political parties,"

Growing number of voters ignore primary elections
"Some experts worry that a voter boycott of primaries could result in politics being dominated by single-issue special-interest groups."

Voters need ballot option if candidates are unworthy
"Thus, and too often, the voting public takes the fall for staying away from the polls even when the reason is their conviction that the only choices available to them are 'Dumb' and 'Dumber'. How about 'None of the above'?"

"Not enough of us are voting the corrupt ones out of office."
"Sandra Brinker often finds herself in the voting booth debating the lesser of two evils. Sometimes, she says, she wishes for a box at the bottom, labeled 'none of the above'."

1998, 2000, 2004, 2006

Overall average for "None Of These Candidates": 7.73%

In Nevada, "None" came in first in primary congressional contests in 1976 and 1978. It also finished ahead of both George Bush and Edward Kennedy in the 1980 presidential primaries.

Don Mello, a former state legislator who authored the law providing the ballot option, says NOTA "is one way for the people to tell the power structure they are not happy. If two rascals are running for the same office, and neither belongs there, why would you want to vote for either one? If you don't vote at all, your vote is not tallied. A vote for None Of The Above is."

Nevada enacted a version of NOTA in 1976. Their version does not require special elections as it is 'non-binding'. Meaning that the NOTA vote only serves as a guage of public opinion.

• Ever had the feeling you'd just rather skip an election than have to pick the least unqualified candidate? That none of them are worth taking off work and going to the poll to vote for?
• Yeah? Me too.

"Because the enactment of NOTA election laws transfers some of the power now exercised by the major political party organizations directly to the voters, it will take an enormous, sustained effort by many individuals and organizations to make the idea of a permanent, binding 'None of the Above' a reality on the ballot."

• Tired of being unable to reject unsuitable or unopposed candidates?

• Tired of the same, predictable faces put up by the Democrats and Republicans at election time?

• Tired of holding your nose to select the least worst choice, and yet having the winner preposterously claim a "mandate from the voters"?

• Tired of arrogant, out-of-touch civics experts attributing low voter turn out to apathy, poor citizenship and ignorance?

Point A special election would cost money to implement. And? The point? Voters are smart enough to realize this. It's our tax money. We can spend it on improving the quality of public officials if we so choose. Point
A candidate who wins an election including a NOTA option has the right to genuinely claim victory. This should appeal to honest public servants. It would give them a credibility they don't currently enjoy. Point
The public would be more inclined to accept the legitimacy of representatives who win their jobs in this scenario. Even those who voted for others than the winner, (including NOTA), would have to admit the result more accurately represents the collective will of the people. Point
Career pols across Tennessee will never willingly enact this fix into law as it would weaken their huge advantage of incumbency in re-election bids. As it stands now, many of the worst of these jokers have no, or mere token, opposition when they run. They have the organizational power of their parties and the bulging wallets of special interests groups and lobbyists who control them.

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