Friday, August 24, 2012

No, Not NOTA!

From the Political Wire: a judge has knocked out Nevada's famous none-of-the-above line on their elections. Apparently Republicans went after it because they thought it would hurt them (I have no idea whether they are right or not). So says election law maven Rick Hasen.

I have no particular views of either the substantive merits or the legal justification of NOTA. However, I'm for it for two reasons. One is that I like quirky local variation in general; it's a big nation, and it's fun when people do things differently. The other is that every once in a while someone will say that if only there was a none of the above option that the two clowns who the major parties have nominated would be buried by it, and Nevada allowed us to know that in fact hardly anyone would vote for the NOTA line.

So I'm definitely rooting for this one to be overturned. Again, regardless of the substantive or legal merits (and, substantively, it's most likely something like open and closed primaries that turns out to be not worth the fuss of contesting in most cases, so there's that).

8 comments:

  1. I wonder what would happen to the state's electors in the electoral college if NOTA won the most votes in November.

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    Replies
    1. Do you mean prior to this week or in the future?

      Prior to NOTA being declared unconstitutional, it has the presumption of being a legal way to run NVs elections. So, I would think that, were NOTA to have prevailed, whatever NV's legislature did to send electors to DC in December would have been fine. Nothing before or after this decision requires NV to ask its citizens who should be the electors.

      Now that its unconstitutional, though, I would think that opens up a can of worms. If NV were to pass a law before the election saying that the electors were going to be determined by best hand of PaiGow at the Bellagio, that would seem to be fine. However, I think any voter could likely bring a suit claiming a disenfranchisement problem if the election is held with NOTA on the ballot. Of course, that suit could be tossed out, or the Supremes could combine the eventual appeal of this week's NOTA decision with that case, or whatever. However, if it's an "in time for this election" question, my guess is that the Supremes would feel compelled to step in, but would go all Bush V Gore on it. They'd probably just take the path of least resistance and say "whoever got the most votes in NV got the electors."

      All this is pure BS speculation.

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    2. That was supposed to say "NOT go all Bush v Gore on it."

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  2. I don't understand how NOTA can be unconstitutional. The judge's logic is really weird... Mickey Mouse could also win via write-in, but that wouldn't count, either.

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  3. Jonathan, In your lifetime, I don't think the winning candidate for President has ever received more votes than the number of people who chose to simply stay home. For some, staying home is the ultimate NOTA.

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    1. Yes, but plenty of people "stay home" despite having a preference. There are plenty of good reasons to not vote.

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    2. Having a preference is meaningless when it’s limited to only two viable candidates (plenty of people vote for “the lesser of two evils”).

      The two party system does not always represent the interests and values of voters today. According to one online survey, Gary Johnson does significantly better than Mitt Romney in aligning with voters on the issues: http://www.isidewith.com

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  4. The only scholarly analysis of Nevada's "none of these candidates" rule that I know of came out recently in the Social Science Journal (see "Losing to Nobody, Nevada's 'None of These Candidates' Ballot Reform").

    In short, it found that the "none of the above" rule hasn't had any effect at all on election results, other than reducing rolloff by giving potential rolloff voters the option of choosing "none" rather than skipping a line on their ballot.

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