What is Voters for None of the Above?

  • A nonpartisan organization dedicated to enacting Voter Consent laws, giving voters the ballot option to reject all candidates for an office and to call for a new election with new candidates to fill that office.

  • We take no position on any other issue; we neither endorse nor oppose any candidacy or party.

  • Welcomes the support of all who want to enact Voter Consent laws.

How would a binding "None of the Above" ballot option work?

    In any state with a binding "None of the Above" ballot option, the list of candidates for each office would be followed by the votable line "None of the Above; For a New Election", or something similar.  If the that option gets more votes than any candidate for the office, then no one is elected to the office; instead, a follow-up by-election with new candidates must be held to fill that office, until a candidate wins a plurality of votes among all other candidates including "None of the Above."

    In the Massachusetts legislation 

    "None of the Above" on the ballot has many thoughtful advocates, including The Wall Street Journal and Ralph Nader.  (See also NOTA options for a discussion of the range of binding and non-binding NOTA Voter Consent ballot options.)

Why are Voter Consent Ballot Options, such as a permanent, binding "None of the Above" on the ballot, a good idea?

  • All legitimate consent requires the ability to withhold consent; "None of the Above" gives the voter the ballot option to withhold consent from an election to office, just as voters can cast a "No" vote on a ballot question.

  • Would end the "must hire" elections where voters are often forced to vote for the least unacceptable candidate, the all too familiar "lesser evil."

  • A candidate must obtain voter consent to be elected, even if running unopposed.

  • Voters would decide the fate of the political parties' choices, instead of the parties deciding the voters' choices.

  • It should reduce negative campaigning by encouraging candidates to campaign for their own candidacy rather than against their opponent's candidacy.

  • Many voters and non voters, who now register their disapproval of all candidates for an office by not voting, could cast a meaningful vote.

  • Provides an effective alternative to the increasing voter practice of writing-in frivolous names, the so-called “Mickey Mouse” option.

  • The meaning of elections should become more clear, since voters would no longer be tempted to vote for a presumed losing candidate, with whom they really do not agree, as a protest vote.

  • Establishes flexible, voter controlled term limits of one term for every office, as the framers of the U.S. Constitution intended.

  • Campaign contributors who give to all candidates to insure "access" would no longer be sure they backed the winner; in general, buying elections should become a more uncertain enterprise.

  • Improves checks and balances between voters and political parties, especially needed in jurisdictions with one dominant political party or nearly identical alternatives.

  • Political parties would nominate candidates knowing those candidates must be a better choice for voters than "None of the Above."

  • Follow-up by-elections are far less costly than electing unacceptable candidates to office.

  • Office holders, knowing they face "None of the Above" in the next election, would be encouraged to insure their re-election by focusing more on doing a good job in office and less on attempting to prevent the emergence of an effective opposition candidate.

  • When pre-election polls include "None of the Above", the feedback from voters should help guide candidates and parties.

  • Even when "None of the Above" does not win or is a non-binding NOTA, the reported NOTA vote would help identify those offices for which voters might be more receptive to new candidates in a future election as well as limits the winner's mandate.

  • Provides a permanent option for voters to withhold consent that is independent of expensive and infrequent candidate based "reform" movements.

  • Should make public service more attractive by improving the quality of those elected to office.

  • Opportunities for election fraud should be reduced because fewer blank votes for an office would be cast.

  • Applies to all candidates and parties equally.

  • It is a relatively simple, fair, sensible, accomplishable and permanent improvement to our current system, hopefully making for a more democratic and ultimately stronger America.

How can Voter Consent Options be placed on the ballot?

    In the United States, except for the offices of President and Vice President, elections for all local, state and federal offices are controlled for the most part by the laws of each state, matters such as nomination requirements, runoffs and by-elections are left largely to the states.  So state election laws can specify methods of election such as runoffs and "None of the Above" Voter Consent ballot option, as they have in Nevada  where a non-binding NOTA on the ballot since 1976.

    The first Voter Consent Law implementing a binding NOTA ballot option is being introduced to the Massachusetts legislature in 2007 with revisions.

    Because a binding NOTA based Voter Consent law gives voters the power to call a new by-election instead of electing a candidate, enacting such laws requires a detailed description of how the process might in fact work. Voters for None of the Above drafted a Voter Consent law for Massachusetts, which may prove useful as a template for drafting Voter Consent laws in other jurisdictions. (See also NOTA options for a discussion of the range of binding and non-binding NOTA Voter Consent ballot options.)

    See: Where NOTA is on the ballot.

How can Voter Consent laws be passed?

    While we do not expect state legislatures to pass Voter Consent laws on their own at this time, Voter Consent laws can be implemented in many states by voters directly through initiative petition. Our overall plan is to select two states for the initial effort: a blue (Democratic) state and a red (Republican) state, if possible.

    Blue State: We first submitted a Voter Consent bill in Massachusetts (1999) and have continued to revise it. After two additional years of hearings and possible revisions, we will assess the chances of passage by the legislature. If we believe this continues to be unlikely, we will begin the process of enacting the Voter Consent law there by initiative petition.

    Red State: Our Red State Voter Consent candidate has not emerged as of yet; so if you live in a Red State, we urge you to begin such a effort. We can help.

Overall Plan to Implement Voter Consent Laws

    In general, we expect to take the following steps toward enactment of Voter Consent laws:

  • Raise the awareness of voters about voter consent and withholding their consent, and the effects of not being able to withhold their consent in elections to office.

  • Encourage direct voter action by using the Proposed National Standard for Writing-In NOTA.

  • Establish state based Voter Consent efforts, focusing on drafting legislation and public education.

  • Raise funds for a two state (Blue State / Red State) effort to enact Voter Consent laws by initiative petition.

  • Explore legal action based on voter consent not legitimate if it can not be withheld.

    In the very long term, after we have had experience with Voter Consent laws in many states, we may consider amending the Constitution to establish a binding NOTA for the presidential election as well.

Help Establish a National Standard for Withholding Consent to an Election to Office by Writing-In "None of the Above" or "NOTA".

    If you find yourself not voting for any candidate for an office because you do not like any candidate, then we suggest you consider writing-in "None of the Above" or "NOTA" rather than not voting or using some other write-in. See: Writing-In None of the Above

How can you help?

    Sign our national e-Petition to help enact Voter Consent laws.

    If you believe Voter Consent laws could make America a stronger democracy, then please help enact them. We will try to use your help as you see best to give it. Trust your own instincts and do what makes sense to you. Whether you are an individual or an organization, do not worry about coordinating with anyone just to get started; if you think something needs doing to get Voter Consent laws enacted in your state, do it. On the other hand, we all need help, advice, feedback and encouragement, so let us know what you are up to. We and others can help those who wish to organize a state or local effect to enact voter consent laws.

    We need help in the following areas: legal expertise to help draw up legislation and petitions; petition effort organizing including independent state directors; fund raising, public relations and advertising; historians and students for research; and, signature gatherers. If you want to start an independent Voter Consent effort in your state, there are resources available to help you.

    If you have a local NOTA effort, we recommend you give most of your support to that effort. If none exists, we recommend you support active efforts in other states, or start one yourself. Finally, enacting Voter Consent Laws takes money: not the often tens of millions of dollars now used to pay for a candidate's, but still many thousands. 

    You can help spread the word about Voter Consent laws by:

  • When voting, writing-in "None of the Above" if you find no acceptable candidate listed for an office.

  • Letting others know about our WEB page.

  • Informing yourself about NOTA/Voter Consent laws and understanding their importance.

  • Writing letters about Voter Consent to your local, regional, and national newspapers and magazines whenever a story or editorial presents an opportunity.

  • Calling radio and TV call in shows about Voter Consent.

  • Calling radio and TV stations and suggest they do a story on Voter Consent.

  • Writing op-ed articles about Voter Consent and contacting the editors of newspapers and magazines suggesting they cover the issue.

  • Speaking to other members of organizations to which you belong that may take an interest in helping enact Voter Consent laws.

  • Voting a write-in "None of the Above" if you decide not to vote for any candidate for an particular office.

  • Telling candidates and office holders their support for Voter Consent is important to you.

  • Using the ideas presented here in your conversations, letters or calls.

  • Remembering to include our WEB page www.nota.org when you communicate with others.

Historic: NOTA bills introduced

    NOTA legislation has been introduced in Wyoming (1991), Colorado (1993), Michigan (1995), Ohio (1996), Pennsylvania (1996), and Arizona (1997), but has not come near passing anywhere yet. Nevada has had a non binding NOTA for state wide offices since 1976.

    In a plebiscite in December 1998 in Puerto Rico, voters choose "None of the Above" from a list proposed future status options, reject all options including independence and statehood request.  

    Mr. David "None of the Above" Gatchell is attempting to put his name on the ballot as a candidate, promising to resign, if elected, once a by-election is held to replace him, as he explains on his web site www.noneoftheabove-tn.org.

Information, Discussion, Or Assistance

    You can obtain more information about Voter Consent; or, subscribe the Voter Consent discussion list; or, obtain help organizing you own Voter Consent effort; or, contact us for  press assistance.

    You can also write to your U.S. Representative or U.S. Senator to support Voter Consent laws.
 

Contact us at: webmaster@nota.org to comment on this WEB site. To contact the author of the text, send e-mail to William H. White.

 
Help us NOW for a better choice in the FUTURE.

Voters for None of the Above
244 Sesuit Neck Road
PO Box 1497
Founded July 6, 1996

~ Resources ~

Because the enactment of NOTA election laws transfer some of the power now exercised by the major political party organizations directly to the voters, it will take an enormous, sustained effort by many individuals and organizations to make the idea of a permanent, binding "None of the Above" a reality on the ballot. Listed below are some of those individuals and organizations.

Contact email to suggest an item for inclusion in the "Resources" section.

www.noneoftheabove-tn.org.David "None of the Above" Gatchell is attempting to put his name on the ballot as a candidate, promising to resign, if elected, once a by-election is held to replace him, as he explains on his web site.

http://www.nota-pa.org .
Contact: David Lynn, Chair, NOTA-PA.ORG;
Email: info@nota-pa.org;
Phone: (215) 821-1156
[Pennsylvania based effort to write-in NOTA. A wonderfully creative site about NOTA and the political process]

www.votenoneoftheabove.us Committee Against Mediocrity in Politics (CAMP).  [CAMP is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization devoted to the elevation of intelligent political discourse. CAMP has launched the Vote None of the Above campaign.]

http://www.nobodyforpresident.org/ [Nobody is another way of saying "None of the Above" and should be included on the voter ballot.
If a majority of people voted for "None of the Above" rather than "voting for the lesser of evils", it might force a situation where Voters would have to find someone competent to lead them.
The Birthday Party's Nobody for President Campaign is a humorous approach to elections and was designed to encourage people to register and vote. Nobody is NOT an endorsement of mass apathy.]

http://www.noneoftheabove.info/ethos.htm [Exists solely to provide a political strategy for the politically "apathetic" to write-in "None of the Above" UK based]

http://www.notapathetic.com/ [Not Apathetic telling the world why you are not voting; UK based.]

Congressional Accountability Project |  gary@essential.org
 Gary Ruskin
P.O. Box 19446
Washington, DC 20036
Voice: (202) 296-2787  Fax: (202) 833-2406
 [Subscription requests to Congressional Reform Briefings to listproc@essential.org with the message: subscribe cong-reform your name] 

Free Congress Research & Educational Foundation
Center For State Policy
Steve Lilienthal, Director |  SLilien@fcref.org
717 Second Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Voice: (202) 546-3000  FAX: (202) 543-8425
[The Center for State Policy is working to ensure that power returns not just to the states -- but to people, raising the public's awareness of the "None of the Above" (NOTA) ballot option for voters who feel dissatisfied with the choices on their ballots. Excellent NOTA research source.]  

Institute for Civic Renewal
NOTA ADVANCE
206 Seneca Street
Oil City, PA 16301.
Voice: (814) 678-0007  FAX: (814) 678-2404
[Does NOTA research and acts a national information clearinghouse, monitoring NOTA activity in many states and providing information to legislators, activists and media.]  

Oaks Project
1750 Ocean Park Blvd. suite 200
Santa Monica, CA. 90405
(310) 392-5304
E-Mail
[The Oaks Project, as part of its democracy tool kit, has undertaken the effort to put a permanent binding NOTA on the ballot in California by ballot proposition, setting the stage for an historic test of Voter Consent Laws. Petition drive begins in January, 1998 and ends April, 1998; this is the project to help right now.]
 

Washington State Campaign for Democracy
John Murray
1916 Pike Place #12
Box 382
Seattle, WA 98101
Voice: 206-885-6972
[Promotes ongoing progressive coalitions in Washington State that will work together to reform the electoral process, create a more democratic society, and curb corporate abuses; planing a petition initiative in Washington State.]

 

    ~ International ~

Voters for None Of  The Above is only active in advocating enactment of  Voter Consent laws in the United States of America. The following is a list of NOTA / Voter Consent efforts outside of the USA.

Vote: None of the Above - Australia

Campaign for a "None of the Above" option on electronic ballots - Ireland

'Partenaires' ('Ils soutiennent le vote blanc') ["White Ballot" or "Vote White" (Blank Ballot)] - France

VOTA EN BLANCO ["Nulo campaign" (Blank Ballot)] - Mexico  (NYTimes June 21, 2009)

 

 


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Revised:06/22/09.