One such suggestion has come from The Nation, a venerable magazine with a long history of leftist causes and commentary. It calls for allowing voters to opt for "none of the above," or a NOTA choice. Should such voters constitute a plurality or majority, a second election would have to be held with new nominees. And another NOTA option.
The concept has appeal. It might reduce the temptation of some candidates to resort to negative campaigns that besmirch themselves as well as their opponents, since many voters are repelled by such tactics. More voters, feeling that their participation would be meaningful if it actively registered their dissatisfaction, - could reverse the trend toward lower voter turnouts. Greater participation can increase voter interest in issues and candidates - and might lead some voters to find candidates less offensive than they believe.
The option would certainly change the dynamic for some candidates who are chronically unopposed, or opposed ineffectually. In a state like Massachusetts, with a long history of one-party domination, change might have come about more quickly and less traumatically had such an option been in place for, say, the state treasurers office.
No system is a cure-all for the problems vexing the American political scene. The NOTA proposal does nothing, for instance, to address the intense negativism expressed on radio call-in shows. These ideas, however, may be worth testing - and NOTA holds some promise.