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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In Nevada, Voting for \'None\' Is No Longer an Option


Voters in Nevada will have to make an actual choice, a federal judge there ruled on Wednesday.

To combat voter apathy after Watergate, Nevada essentially institutionalized the protest vote, allowing voters to choose “none of these candidates” in elections for statewide and presidential candidates.

But the ruling, by Judge Robert C. Jones of the United States District Court in Nevada, means it is almost certain to be left off the November ballot - which may help the Republican Party.

Mr. Jones ruled that because “none” can never win, offering that option on the ballot is unconstitutional.

In the complaint, obtained through Courthouse News Service, some of the plaintiffs, financed by the Republican National Committee, expressed concern that voters would protest by choosing “none of the above” â€" and be disenfranchised â€" when they would otherwise choose Mitt Romney and the Republican incumbent i n the competitive United States Senate race, Dean Heller. Two Electoral College electors for Mr. Romney are also on the list of plaintiffs, as are a registered Democrat and independent.

“None” has never won, but some believe it served as a spoiler in the 1998 Senate race. Harry Reid, now the Senate Democratic leader, beat John Ensign by 428 votes: 8,125 people voted for “none.”

The lawsuit was filed against Nevada's secretary of state, Ross Miller, whose office argued that voting for “none” was essentially the same as not voting, which citizens have always had the right to do. Mr. Miller, a Democrat, said in a statement that he is “planning an immediate and expedited appeal to protect the long-standing public interest of the ‘none of these candidates' option.”

Mr. Jones issued only an oral ruling, but promised to offer his written reasoning before Sept. 7, when ballots must be ready for printing.