None of the above!

I’m sure that this has been discussed before, but I’ve never asked the intrepid Dopers personally, and it seems peculiarly apropos this election cycle, so tell me what you think:

What are the ramifications of adding an official “none of the above” option to the ballot?

I know there are write-in votes, but what would happen if a large number, even a majority, selected “none of the above” as a particular vote of no confidence in the process and/or candidates?

My WAG: It wouldn’t be a bad idea. Probably would only get 3-5% of the vote, though.

If a majority, run the election again but all candidates on the ballot must be replaced by new ones - hopefully.

If there is a spot for a write in candidate, why would anyone want to vote none of the above? The only reason I can think of is dissatisfaction not just with who’s running the government but with the fact that we even have a government. If you really feel none of the candidates on the ballot are good candidates, then write someone in who you do feel would be a good candidate.

Starting the whole mess over again…only with candidates picked out by the parties that we already didn’t think were good enough to beat the original top two. More untold millions spent, more ads, more bluster, the rhetoric will get cranked up even higher. We wouldn’t get “new” candidates-we’d get the same ones that tried and failed this time around.

I was thinking in the aggregate. It seems likely (I don’t know to a certainty) that write-in candidates’ votes would be diffuse, but a good solid return of a NOTA might make some kind of wave.

For presidential elections in Texas, primaries select the Democratic & Republican candidates. The Libertarians & Greens select their own candidates. Those wishing to run as Independents or Write-in candidates also have papers to file & deadlines to meet.

Any other votes will not count. Of course, other states have other rules.

If you don’t like the Presidential choices, ignore that part of the ballot & concentrate on the races that mean something to you. Of course, many people who abstain from the process until Election Day often have no idea about those other races. So they ought to stay home.

I believe Australia has a version of this. Probably not quite that wording, but Australia has mandatory voting, and an Aussie friend once told me there was some sort of “No Vote” option on the ballot.

I think the problem with this is, what happens if “None of the Above” wins? If there is a revote, how do you prevent it from happening again? If the answer is, “You don’t,” then how many revotes does it take before it becomes clear that the voting process isn’t going to elect anybody?

Do you accept all write-ins in the second vote? What if, say, John Smith wins, only for 25 people to show up and say, “I’m John Smith; when do I start”? Should write-ins be limited to people who filed candidacy papers, in which case, why not just list every candidate on the ballot (anybody else remember the 2003 California “who should be governor if Gray Davis is recalled?” election, with 135 candidates on the ballot?) and do without write-ins?

How long before the next election-six months, nine months, a year maybe? Is the previous Prez still in charge until it all gets sorted out and the eventual new Prez gets to start his shortened term?

This thread is sort of like asking “What number am I thinking of?”. The way to establish an official “none of the above” option would be to set down exactly what the implications would be. If the rules say that we re-run the whole election, then it means that we re-run the whole election. If the rules say that the highest non-none option wins, then that’s what it means. If the rules stay just as they are, then we don’t have an official NotA option.

I’ve seen Libertarians suggest this, but in their version a win for “None of the Above” means the office is left vacant until the next election. There are some obvious practical problems with that.

Not just “hopefully.” The option is only meaningful if it constitutes an actual, enforced rejection of the above-named candidates. Hold a new election, at an interval set in advance, in which none of the first set shall be eligible.

How about for the Presidency, any state where None of the Above wins, the electors get picked by a special session of the state legislature or by the governor? That way, electors would still get picked, and you wouldn’t have to worry about delaying stuff with a second election?

If this kind of reform is actually necessary, it might be slightly more effective to make it easier to register to be a candidate. We also might have three stages of elections: Primary, Secondary, and General. At each stage, we the voters would weed out a few more of the losers, until whatever is left is acceptable by consensus.

Saying, “To hell with 'em all” doesn’t really give us any useful working information on how we want ourselves governed.

As unpleasant as it may be, “The least of two (or thirty) evils” does provide some real guiding information for the new leadership. “We hates yuz, but we hates all the others wuss. Keep that in mind, smarty-pants.”

The office should be left vacant until the next election.

Here we go. There’s a Wikipedia entry for None of the Above, and I see Nevada already offers it:

**None of the Above (NOTA), also known as “against all” or a “scratch” vote, is a ballot option in some jurisdictions or organizations, designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system. It is based on the principle that consent requires the ability to withhold consent in an election, just as they can by voting no on ballot questions.

Entities that include “None of the Above” on ballots as standard procedure include India (“None of the above”), Greece (λευκό, white, but unrelated to a political party of the similarly sounding name-however it is symbolic only), the U.S. state of Nevada (None of These Candidates), Ukraine (Проти всіх), Spain (voto en blanco), and Colombia (voto en blanco). Russia had such an option on its ballots (Против всех) until it was abolished in 2006. Bangladesh introduced this option (না ভোট) in 2008. Pakistan introduced this option on ballot papers for the 2013 Pakistan elections, but the Election Commission of Pakistan later rejected it.

When None of the Above is listed on a ballot, there is the possibility of NOTA receiving a majority or plurality of the vote, and so “winning” the election. In such a case, a variety of formal procedures may be invoked, including having the office remain vacant, having the office filled by appointment, re-opening nominations or holding another election (in a body operating under parliamentary procedure), or it may have no effect whatsoever, as in India and the US state of Nevada, where the next highest total wins regardless.**

Which practically guarantees that the most popular candidate wouldn’t be President. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely not democratic (little ‘d’).

There are some obvious practical problems with that.

What? No. I feel very safe in saying that a candidate that can’t finish ahead of “None of the Above” is clearly not the most popular possible candidate.