NH bill would let voters pick ‘none of the above’
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A bill that would add the option of choosing "none of the above" on New Hampshire ballots seems like a quintessential proposal for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state that prides itself on having discerning voters.
But even the measure’s sponsors say it’s probably doomed, with one acknowledging that it would be humiliating for a candidate to be defeated by no one rather than an actual opponent.
Sponsor Charles Weed, D-Keene, says voters should have the chance to express their dissatisfaction with all the candidates for a given office.
"Real choice means people have to be able to withhold their consent," Weed said. "You can’t do that with silly write-ins. Mickey Mouse is not as good as ‘none of the above."’
Nevada is the only state where voters can cast their ballots for "none of the above." The U.S. Supreme Court last month refused to hear an appeal by Republicans seeking to remove the option from the ballot.
Two years ago in Nevada, Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller defeated his Democratic challenger, Shelley Berkley, by about 12,000 votes. More than 45,000 votes were cast for "none of the above."
In 2000, California voters soundly defeated a proposition to add the option to ballots there.
Rep. Douglas Ley, D-Jaffrey, said he thinks New Hampshire, with its motto of Live Free or Die, would be more receptive to the "none of the above" option.
"It simply because we sort of take pride in trying to reflect voter interests and preferences as much as we can," Ley said.
But Ley said vanity may be the biggest threat to the bill’s success.
"It’s hard enough to lose to an opponent. It’s doubly hard to lose to nobody," Ley said. "We have tender egos. It’s one of the reasons why I think it’s been opposed, but no one will ever say that."
Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicts the reason it won’t pass has more to do with logistics and the fact there is no "above" on the state’s ballots.
Gardner said the last time the "none of the above" proposal came up was more than a decade ago, when state ballots listed candidates for a particular office in columns. Now they are listed horizontally, from left to right.
"It would be one heck of an experiment to have to start educating voters that, when "none of the above" appears, it would not be the "above" but the candidates to the right or left," Gardner said.
Under the proposal, a special election would be held if "none of the above" received the most votes. The bill is before the House Election Law Committee.
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