Gimme a Ballot to Bite On

From Massachusetts, America's #1 source for politicians who can't make up their minds, comes a fair-play law for digusted voters:

The proposal would let voters reject all candidates and demand a new election.

"Occasionally, when you get an application for a position, none of them are qualified," said William H. White , a retired systems analyst from East Dennis spearheading the scheme, who testified yesterday before state lawmakers.

The measure, pending before the Legislature, would add the line "None of the Above; For a New Election" to every state and local race on the ballot. If that option won the most votes, another election would be held in 60 to 80 days, and other candidates would be allowed to run.

Normally, I'd say this was a placebo bill. How often are 50 percent plus one voters going to opt out of choosing one of the two parties? But this is Massachusetts, where the Democrats run practically everything, and many legislative districts don't have Dem-GOP battles on the ballot. That makes this a little more interesting, and by extension less likely to pass.

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  • ||

    "If that option won the most votes, another election would be held in 60 to 80 days, and other candidates would be allowed to run."

    Does it also prohibit the original, rejected, candidates from participating in the election? That would be good.

  • ||

    comes a fair-play law for digusted voters

    You'd think these voters would be satisfied by having two gusts, but no...

  • ||

    One would think that being spurned for the prospect of no one at all would be enough to keep the original losers from running in the second election.

  • thoreau||

    If one wanted to hedge bets (vote for it while voting against it!) you could use something like Approval Voting: Allow voters to support more than one candidate if they wish, and include "New election" as a candidate. If new election gets the most votes (it needn't be 50%, just more than any other option) then you hold a new election.

  • ||

    It doesn't sound like they need fifty percent, just a majority of votes. If you can split the votes among the other candidated evenly, you wouldn't need that many. I just wish that the default wasn't another election, but someone who would stand in for the represenative who would vote nay on everything. Call it the do nothing option.

  • ||

    It's OK. Not good, but OK.

    Good would be the office going empty if NOTA won.

    Great would be, of course, would be disbanding the state, but I'll take what I can get.

  • ||

    Great would be, of course, would be disbanding the state, but I'll take what I can get.

    I agree, that sounds like a wonderful idea.

  • VM||

    "None of the Above"

    cue Brewster's Millions (again)

  • ||

    "One would think that being spurned for the prospect of no one at all would be enough to keep the original losers from running in the second election."

    Okay. Now that I've stopped laughing and picked myself off the floor, I can type.

    These people have no shame. They'll do or say whatever it takes to reach their goal, which is to get and hold power.

    That was a good one, Hugh.

  • ||

    Voters should have the option of not having an elected representative at all. The seat could sit vacant. If voters in a district coudn't attract even on acceptable option to their original election, why should they get a second bite?

  • ||

    I'd really like to see some Australian style rank order balloting expiriments at local, county or state level.

  • ||

    This idea is stupid on its face, and here's why: elections in the American two-party system work using the principle of the lessor evil. Often times your vote is not so much for Candidate A but against Candidate B.

    So if you're against Candidate B, why would you waste your vote on "None" even if you don't particularly like Candidate A? You're basically giving Candidate B a vote, unless you really think that "None" is going to win.

  • Urkobold™||

    "LESSOR EVIL?" ONE WHO RENTS OR LEASES EVIL?

  • ||

    It doesn't sound like they need fifty percent, just a majority of votes.

    Ouch.

    In any case, if this goes through, MA voters finally will have the opportunity to join their junior senator in voting for a candidate before they vote against him.

  • VM||

    Yes, oh mighty URKOBOLD.

    You offer such a service!

  • ||

    I posted that comment, read it and thought to myself, "dammit, I'm going to hear about that one"

  • VM||

    It's following Crane's Law (after Mr. Steven Crane), "teh Intertubez are for teh FUN lolz."

  • Urkobold™||

    EXCELLENT, URKOBOLD'S LITTLE MOOSEKIN! INDEED WE DO. YOU MAY HAVE A COOKIE AND A DRUNKEN MONKEY MILKSHAKE.

    DAN T.,

    ALL THINGS ULTIMATELY TIE IN TO THE URKOBOLD AND HIS VARIOUS BUSINESS SCHEMES AND SCAMS. TREMBLE AND KNEEL BEFORE THE URKOBOLD'S HORDE OF BUSINESS PROCESS PATENT LAWYERS.

  • ||

    Urkobold and its army of bloggers continues to haunt me.

  • Stephen the Goldberger||

    Dan T - well politics is certainly about compromise and compromise is usually about picking the lesser of two evils.

    But maybe just maybe this none of the above action will actually improve the electoral system and make it about more than just choosing candidates who don't suck as much balls as the other guy.

  • ||

    It doesn't sound like they need fifty percent, just a majority of votes.

    Who died and made you Yogi Berra?

  • ||

    Gimme,

    lOl, hadn't thought of that angle.

  • ||

    On the whole not a bad idea... why now??

    Is it that disgusted voters finally found their candidate?

  • John Washburn||

    The remaining to consent options then are for absention and remove the office. This creates three version of none of the above.

    None of the Above; Abstain
    None of the Above; For a new election
    None of the Above; Eliminate the Office

    One option on the Eliminate the office is that if NOTA; New election wins three times then the office is eliminated or there is a referendum for elimination.

    I like best having all the consent options. So the following ballots is possible:
    John Smith
    Jane Doe
    Write-In:__________________
    None of the Above; Abstain
    None of the Above; For a new Election
    None of the Above; Eliminate the Office

    And you must mark one of the six options provided. That way the number of votes must always be equal to the number of ballots given to voters. No. 18,000 under-vote mysteries like in Sarasota Florida are allowed.

    Government derives its power from the consent of the governed. Expressly withholding that consent should be an option.

  • metalgrid||

    Is it that disgusted voters finally found their candidate?

    No it's just that they need someone to vote for when voting against a Dem candidate since Reps are non-existant here. So instead of letting a Dem win by default, they'd much rather have another election by voting for None of the Above

  • Nick||

    Can we refer to this as the "Ted Kennedy" law from now on?

  • ||

    No it's just that they need someone to vote for when voting against a Dem candidate since Reps are non-existant here. So instead of letting a Dem win by default, they'd much rather have another election by voting for None of the Above

    But what's the point? Wouldn't the next election just feature a different Democrat to win by default?

  • ||

    Can we refer to this as the "Ted Kennedy" law from now on?

    Speaking of which...do the Libertarians in Mass ever put up a candidate against Kennedy?

  • ||

    joshua corning,

    Carla Howell.

  • ||

    Question: In Nevada, IIRC, voters have the NOTA option. Any word on how many people actually vote NOTA in a given election?

  • ||

    I'd really like to see some Australian style rank order balloting expiriments at local, county or state level.



    One of the requirements of a voting system is that the participants understand it.

    After observing the fact that a number of people in Florida were amazed that their votes didn't count if they voted for more than one person or that it didn't count if you didn't actually poke a hole in a punchcard ballot I have decided that expecting Americans to understand that they have to select at least three candidates in order of preference but that they are actually only voting for one is a little much.

    It really pains me to say it. But I have had to come to conclusion that my countrymen are dumber than Tasmanians.

  • ||

    I always wondered what would happen if all the dissatisfied and disgusted voters who normally stay home on election day wrote in a candidate like "Mickey Mouse" or "Underdog". Would the eventual winner of the election (with something like 1% of the vote) still claim a mandate? Would he even have the nerve to claim the victory?

  • thoreau||

    I agree with Isaac. I'm a fan of alternative voting systems. I even have a scholarly interest in the underlying mathematics. (It's far more complex than it seems.) But I don't think we're ready for it.

    Maybe Approval Voting. Maybe.

  • ||

    Are we that much stupider than Australia?

    C'mon, it's Australia! Originally colonized by criminals and ne'er-do-wells. They call things willabongos and jamby-jimblies. Toilets flush backwards there!

  • VM||

    isn't there compulsory voting in Australia?

    Water Rats was an amusing show...

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Zod has a simple solution. Vote for him in 2008, and you'll never have to worry about voting methodologies again!

  • ||

    Wouldn't it make more sense to have some sort of recall legislation instead? Elections are expensive for everyone. Bad enough to run one and then have to run another one right on it's heels. By the third you would have to think voter turnout would be low low low.
    Better to put in a mechanism (no one has it right yet that I know of) where if your guy does a bad job or is a bad guy (say, sleeps with prostitutes while voting to impeach a president for having an affair) you can pull him off the job and get him replaced. Only getting the chance to be fired every 4 years isn't very fair. In fact - who will even remember something like that 4 years from now? Strike while the iron is hot.

  • ||

    bromo98,

    Exactly! The Censor! A new branch of government dedicated to the proposition that all politicians were created evil.

  • ||

    NOTA should always be an option. If it wins, the office should go unfilled for one full term.

  • Tom||

    It doesn't sound like they need fifty percent, just a majority of votes.

    The word is plurality, but yeah, "most votes" doesn't mean 50%.

  • ||

    isn't there compulsory voting in Australia?



    Yes.

    Actually a pedant might say that there is only compulsary attendance at the polls. Since they use the Australian ballot noone can know if you actually voted or not.

    A high number of "informal" (spoiled or unmarked) ballots are usually taken as a sign of voter dissatisfaction even though at least a few of them are due to the aforementioned voter stupidity.

    Also, I'm not sure if the minimum number of choices is required for Federal which uses a preferential or instant runoff system to elect a single member to each district or just in Tasmanian State elections where they use the Hare-Clark proportional representation system to elect five members to five districts (for a 25 member house - it's a small state).

    And Tasmania apparently requires five preferences be picked For the ballot to be "formal".

    Each voter is required to indicate a minimum of five candidate preferences in order to cast a formal or valid vote. To stop before five or make an error (e.g. two No. 4 votes) renders the vote informal.

  • ||

    But what's the point? Wouldn't the next election just feature a different Democrat to win by default?

    Perhaps, Dan T. But the second-round draft pick would be able to examine what it was that got the first bum flattened and adjust his rhetoric accordingly.

  • ||

    Originally colonized by criminals and ne'er-do-wells.



    Yeh, but those convicts were wily buggars. And quite a few of them did very well indeed. Transportation has been cited as one of the most successful prisoner rehabilitation systems ever.

    It's too bad there aren't any more uninhabited continents to ship our malefactors of to.

    Many years ago Australians went to great lengths to hide their convict ancestry. Even to the point of having records destroyed.

    Today's Aussies are overjoyed if they can point to a convict in the family tree and will brag on it to no end.

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