Friday, March 09, 2012

None Of The Above

At BabyTrollBlog, Mark writes:
So I question the truism that "We get the government we deserve" and its corollary that, because we prefer to vote by not voting -- selecting, as it were, "None of the above", we are thereby somehow derelict in our civic duty.
A cogent case was put to me by my roommate a few years back that turning in a blank ballot is voting "none of the above".

Not actually showing up at all is saying "I don't care; do as you will."

I'm not entirely decided on the matter, but it was enough for me to dabble in recreational voting again after a long hiatus, if only to vote wookie where I can and "None Of The Above Is Acceptable" where I can't. Oh, and for whoever is running against Dick Lugar. Just because.


Weer'd Beard said...

That was my technique for all those time Fat Teddy Kennedy ran un-opposed for the Senate seat currently occupied by Scott "Well At Least I didn't Kill a Girl" Brown *spit*.

A local talk show host would always note the voter turnout numbers, and compare it to Teddy's tally.

Seems that about 30% of the people who showed up on those days either didn't check a box, or wrote in the Labrador Retriever's name, rather than cast a vote for the Swimmer.

Not that Teddy fucking cared.

Stuart the Viking said...

I wonder if it would be possible to get enough people to write in "None Of The Above" as a write-in canidate for it to actually show up in the numbers and therefore get some press.

I know, I know, it would be a throw away vote and a lot of people don't like to do that, but if the numbers got big enough, maybe it would send a message.


Anonymous said...

The problem with blank ballots is that no one cares that you said, "none of the above". They only care about actual votes, your protest is in vain. Stuart has the right idea, but I still doubt anyone will get introspective and actually select a great candidate as a result.

karrde said...

From my experience, there is some sort of declaration that needs to be made by write-in candidates.

Write-ins for non-declared candidates may be noted, but aren't part of the official count.

At least, in the parts I vote in...

Gewehr98 said...

I'd have to agree. The only person who sees your blank protest ballot is the person counting them, who probably has a "WTF" moment, then presses on with the task at hand.

karrde said...

Still, I think a "write in 'None-of-the-Above" campaign might be a good idea.

If there isn't actually anyone worth voting FOR.

Joseph said...

I don't know, I think Lugar's new campaign slogan is kind of catchy.

"Dick Lugar, the Virginian Indiana needs"

Ed Foster said...

I was told that one of the few good things about voting in Canada is that they can cast a "No-Confidence" vote, and it matters. If nobody gets a plurality, the election has to be reheld. Not a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Turning in a blank ballot is an invitation to fraud. I use to punch out both the donk and the repub so voter fraud was that much harder.

But nowadays we have the touchscreen blackbox voting thingy, just showing up is an invitation to have your votes cooked. Not showing up does the exact same thing, and you can't not vote in some cases, it won't let you move on to the nest screen sometimes.

Now I turn in an absentee. Rules in Maryland require, and I sh!t you not, that you fill out the ballot with a #2 pencil.


Ed Rasimus said...

The blanks on a ballot simply are noted as an "undervote"--the difference between ballots used and votes in a particular race.

They have no significance and are quite common as many folks who go to vote for President or Governor or Mayor don't have the vaguest clue when they walk in that they will even be faced with those dozens of other races.

The real way to have a positive impact and voice your preference (or displeasure) is to support qualified candidates with your $$$, your time, your participation, and your votes.

Failure to do so leaves the field to the crap that we see today.

Tam said...


"support qualified candidates ... the crap that we see today."

There's something of an inherent contradiction there.

Cincinnatus said...

Voting Against YY is always a valid technique.

Bram said...

We get the government we deserve because we are too sissy to hang the politicians.

Tony Muhlenkamp said...

We may get the government we deserve because we aren't willing to run for office ourselves.

Mark Roote said...

I've decided this year that I will be a write in candidate in every position it is possible and blank in any that aren't... except for the sheriff, I actually personally know and like one of those candidates.
As I see it, not voting means I don't care and since I am the only person I recognize as being able to govern me, I think it is the best choice.

Brad K. said...

the government we deserve stands only when nothing is bought or sold, when every individual involved is ready and demanding to step up and be respected.

My proposal -- make it a felony to spend any political contribution of any sort more than 100 miles from the home address of the donor.

We are getting the candidates that those willing to buy one, arranged for. The resulting government assures that those spending the money don't get hurt as bad as the rest.

azmountaintroll said...

I'm a pollworker in the State of Florida, and if we had proportional distribution of electoral votes then Mickey Mouse would get one every time.

Aaron said...

Its not that we get the government we deserve.

I keep getting the government THEY deserve. Dammit.

Grumpyunk said...

By good friend was down in Henryville helping with the cleanup when Lugar came for his photo-op. My friend is a 25 year RN and said Lugar looked like "Death eating a cracker" and won't finish his term if elected.

Bubblehead Les. said...

True Story: Stayed up into the wee hours cruising the Election Board Web Sites here in Ohio Tues./Wed. Noticed that my County (Lake) had about 15,000 Registered Dems come out and Vote. Ohio still does Closed Primaries, so none of that Jumping Ship for a Day to stack the Votes for the Opposition Stuff. But since Obama has NO Opposition in the Dems Primary Season in Ohio, you would think he got 15,000 Votes.

He got 12,000.

So 3,000 Dems left the Circle Empty when they Voted (they give Free #2 Pencils up here) yet the rest of their Ballot still Counted, i.e., Tax Levies, County Commissioners, etc, all seemed to add up to 15,000.

So, yeah, at least in Ohio, it looks like you can do "None of the Above", yet still vote for/against the Stuff that's important to you.

So maybe you can do that in Indiana? I'd check it out.

Moriarty said...

"None of the Above" is an explicit choice on all Nevada candidate ballots.

I always thought that, in State elections, if None of the Above won they should re-open the nominations.

Winning a second time in the same election would abolish the office.

Armed Texan said...

I agree that you do not deserve the government you are getting if you choose not to vote (or voted for another candidate/ballot measure), but you're going to get it anyway. Much like a mugging, it really doesn't matter whether you deserve to be held at knife/gun point and be robbed, it's going to happen anyway. Now, what are you going to do about it? If you are being mugged, do not comply, pull a weapon of your own, run away, or something rather than stand there and trust that a criminal has enough honor to not harm you beyond taking your wallet. The same is true for politicians. You can vote against, vote for someone else, run for office yourself, campaign for the least bad option, or do something other than just stand there counting on a power-hungry politician to not act according to his nature. Deserves got nothing to do with it.

Drang said...

@Bubblehead Les: Note that His Imperial Majesty lost the primary in several (dozen? two dozen?) counties in Oklahoma. Granted that, based on voting results, Oklahoma is the reddest of states, still...

Rob K said...

My rep, Joe Donnelly (D-IN) is running for the senate this year. I'd hate to have to vote for a Democrat, but here's a snippet of a letter he sent me: ---

I am a cosponsor of a number of bills that protect the right to keep and bear arms. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 822, legislation that would make state-issued concealed firearm carrying permits or licenses valid across state lines as long as they followed that state's laws on where concealed weapons can be carried. On November 16, 2011, H.R. 822 passed out of the House of Representatives with my support by a vote of 272 to 154. I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 645, legislation to restore full Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia. Additionally, I helped introduce H.R. 615, legislation that would prevent the U.S. State Department from interfering with the importation of historic M-1 Garand rifle and the M-1 carbine rifles from South Korea.

With Dick Luger voting like a Democrat anyway, may as well get a Democrat that sometimes votes like a Republican.

Pakkinpoppa said...

I voted. I was mostly voicing opposition against the local school levy (You must hate kids! I was repeatedly told*).

Other than that, there wasn't much to vote that I could vote for. Voted against "Tiberi" (for his opponent, but he lost), but...for the Stupid Party primary, I picked Perry. Since he's on the ballot. Couldn't vote "against" Rumney or Noot any better way, and with the electronic things, I couldn't write in Cain either.

*I don't hate kids. I have one who's almost 3. I do hate the school board's attitude, they can spend as much as they like, then run to the voters next year with threats to cut busing, sports, busing, and ALL extracurricular activities. A levy last fall was rejected at about, 65-35 I recall, but passed this time 51-49, as this time the income tax part was taken off the proposal, and a pile of alleged concessions were made so the deficit hole was only 16 million rather than the 23 it had been.

Anonymous said...

It took me years to overcome the brainwashing I was given in government school, but I've come to realise that, while it doesn't hurt to have an interest in politics, and every once in a while you even get to do something that produces meaningful change (for better or for worse), there's something to be said about not caring about the politics, or caring, but not caring for those in office.

Even congresscritters have the right to abstain from voting. Why should we look down on individuals, when they choose to exercise the same right?

Thus, every ballot should have a "None of the Above" or "I Abstain From Voting in this Race/Issue" option.

Sigivald said...


Not showing up will be counted as apathy.

Showing up and voting blank, or literally writing in "nobody" or "none of the above" is at least a definite action.

It'll be just as ignored, because nobody's tallying those up or cares about them, but it's a thing.

(This is the sort of reason I utterly oppose the occasional call for Australian-style mandatory voting.

I can't even comprehend what people are thinking when they suggest it, other than some magical "voting is good, so if we make people vote it'll be good because it's good" idiocy.

The last thing I want is apathetic chuckleheads "voting" because someone made them.)

Ed Rasimus said...

When I commented on how to improve the gene pool of elected officials, Tam was cruel:

Tam said...

"support qualified candidates ... the crap that we see today."

There's something of an inherent contradiction there.
In a period of intense foolishness I ran for City Council of Colorado Springs, a city of about 400,000. I lost by 300 votes to a guy who was immediately embroiled in scandal. Folks that I knew came up later and expressed regret. They said "I thought you had it in the bag, so I didn't bother voting...."

Now, I don't know if I would meet your standard of qualified candidate, but with my service, my education, my experience and my reputation, I thought I might be able to do some good.

Less cynicism and more postivism couldn't hurt.

Cthulhu said...

Looks like I may need to change my name to 'none-of-the-above R. Destroyer of worlds'.

derek in wanamaker said...

If any of you want a Richard Mourdock yard sign or want to help in the campaign to beat Dick Lugar in Indy, email me at derek 4mourdock at thanks and good post!

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"The real way to have a positive impact and voice your preference (or displeasure) is to support qualified candidates with your $$$, your time, your participation, and your votes.

Failure to do so leaves the field to the crap that we see today."

Your statement assumes that there are qualified candidates to support.

Zendo Deb said...

The issue of qualified candidates.

Hundreds or thousands of people will complain about candidates. But none of them will run for anything. Maybe that should be tens or hundreds of thousands.

Of course you can't start out by trying to run for President. But no one will even run for dog catcher. Suggest to someone that "you should run" and they will tell you how they aren't crocked enough to be a politician. As long as everyone feels that way, then yes, we will get bastards in government. (It wasn't always that way.)

Mikael said...

In sweden all the votes are counted, regardless of what they are, there's a 4% limit to entering the government and getting seats. The donald duck party(doesn't exist) gets some votes each time(used to be 3-4 thousand when I was growing up, down to a few hundred now).

We also have a real party named the pirate party, which hasn't managed to get into government(0.63% 2006), but has managed to get into the european union parliament(2009). It's a 3 issue party: for personal integrity and privacy, culture being free, and against patents and private monopolies. They want to reduce the time of copyright from 70 years from the death of the material maker, to 5 years from the publishing of the material.

Basically they're a party that has come from hacker culture(information wants to be free).

Mark Alger said...


I don't necessarily disagree, and I do support the candidate I perceive to be least likely to do much damage by my lights as a matter of self-defense.

My point, which Tam elided somewhat, is that I resent being told that, despite a lifetime of voting -- and organizing and donating and shouting from the rooftops against it -- I (particularly) deserve it.

As John Lennon (should have) said, Get this; f*ck that.

And further, I argue that resort to sporting equipment should come sooner rather than later in the electoral cycle. But that's just me being ornery.


Sebastian said...

I've often wondered if it might be better to have an elected executive, but the people have to vote Congress into and out of session. So right now everyone hates Congress. Well, OK... so why don't we shut Congress down for a decade or so in order that they can't do any more damage. Or maybe give the people the power to dissolve a session of Congress, and render all laws passed under it null and void. Or take it really far and just have a big old reset button, that sets all US law back to 1789, and we start over.

I don't believe in direct democracy, but I don't mind the people having a check on it's government that falls short of starting a revolt. I don't think our founders thought enough about those kinds of mechanism, short of guaranteeing our ability to shoot the bastards if it came to that.

I've also pondered whether it might make sense to pay the President 2 billion dollars a year, and Congressmen 10 million a year. That way you'd get people doing it for the money, who I think I might trust more than people doing it for the power and title. Think of the campaign Ads: "Vote for Ed, because he needs a new beach house and a sailboat." I'm OK with that deal as long as Ed promises to vote to leave me the hell alone.