None of these candidates
September 6, 2002
Nevada’s “none of these candidates” option on election ballots is seen as an oddity, a way for voters to express their frustration without actually wrecking an election.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Nevada must never do away with its “none of these candidates” ballot choice. In fact, it should also consider strengthening and expanding the law.
Currently the only state with such an option on its statewide election ballots, Nevada doesn’t actually allow “none of these candidates” to win. Even if “none” gets the most votes, the leading candidate would still get the office.
But there are good reasons to change the wording to read “Call for a new election” or something similar, and those reasons apply just as well to local offices as statewide positions.
One of the most powerful reasons, in our minds, is the ability for voters to reject a pair of candidates whose campaigns turn dirty and vicious.
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Few legal restraints on gutter-level mudslinging have had much effect, but an option of “call for a new election” on the ballot would give voters the ultimate authority. Candidates would think twice about running a campaign that could kill both their chances.
Another compelling argument is the number of unopposed candidates for office, frequently in local elections. We’re not saying unopposed candidates are generally unworthy; in fact, they are always to be commended for offering themselves for public service.
But voters need to have some choice, if they perceive the sole candidate to be a scoundrel. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.
We understand why Nevada is the only state with “none of these candidates,” and why it’s unlikely a “call for new election” option will be enacted without a citizens’ initiative petition. What politician would want to be upstaged by nobody?
For the voters, though, going to the polls should never have to mean choosing the lesser of two evils.
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