Right now in Oklahoma, if you don’t like any of the candidates for an elected office, your only choices are to plug your nose and pick one or simply not vote in that election. This leaves a lot of people in a position where they feel like they have no way to express that dissatisfaction. However, that may change if new legislation is passed this year.
Representative Proctor, Democrat District 77, has introduced HB2632 which would add a “None Of The Above” option to the ballot. That is it really. It simply adds that option to all election on the ballot. Unfortunately, the bill is missing quite a few aspects that would make such an option meaningful.
While adding the option provides an outlet for those who don’t like any of the candidates on the ballot, casting a vote for “None Of The Above” is meaningless on all fronts. Because it lacks the following things, it won’t make much difference in any election.
First, the bill does not require the votes for “None Of The Above” to be counted. Without being counted, there is no way to measure the dissatisfaction of voters toward the provided candidates. Without the votes for it being counted, a candidate may win an election with a minority of voters voting for them and we would never know. This may not change much from the current process as many people leave ballot lines blank.
Second, there are no provisions in the bill for when or if the “None Of The Above” option wins an election. So even if the votes are counted, if it wins, nothing happens. There are a lot of things that could be done in the case of “None Of The Above” winning, but most of them would probably result in a legal challenge by one or more candidate on the ballot.
The lack of any action on votes for “None Of The Above” has led Nevada into court in recent years. In that case, the plaintiffs argue that the votes for “None Of The Above” should be binding and that if it wins the election, then it counts as the seat being vacated and a special election being required. That case was eventually dismissed because the court ruled none of the plaintiffs had standing to challenge the law.
Finally, the law does not require that single candidate elections go to the ballot against “None Of The Above”. If this were required, it would provide a way for parties that failed to run a candidate and Independents to better gauge the political climate for the next election. They could look at the number of votes for “None of The Above” and judge whether a campaign in the next election would make sense.
Even if Oklahoma does not want to make the votes for “None Of The Above” binding, it should at the very least count and report the vote totals for that option for all seats. Had that option been available and counted in the last three presidential elections, where only two candidates were available, then we could have more easily seen the dissatisfaction of voters who were limited in their options.
This is one election law that would would welcome regardless.