As Nov. 8 draws nearer and the presidential between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reaches a fever pitch, undecided voters are feeling the pressure to make up their minds on who to support. The two major party candidates running for president have drawn both fierce defenders and vicious critics. Some are even saying that they would rather not vote than be forced to cast a vote for either Clinton or Trump. Well, listen up unenthused voters, Nevada has the answer for you.
In a peculiar turn of events, Nevada's ballots list "none of these candidates" as a voting option. It is the only state in the nation to provide this choice for its residents. My first reaction to learning this was that it's bizarrely funny. Then, I found out that, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal, there have been times when "none" has won the most votes in an election, which is even funnier. But besides the humor it provides, I think this "none" option is good for voter engagement.
It is common fact that the majority of Americans only come out to vote in presidential years. This year, given the low approval numbers of both major party candidates, it seems that many more people than usual are planning to withhold their vote altogether. Having the option to vote "none" may give more disaffected voters a reason to come out, which will benefit down-ballot races that struggle for voter participation.
Here's the thing: how effective is a protest vote if you never actually do the voting part? There are some who plan to use their refusal to vote as a statement on the undesirability of the candidates presented before them. But statistically there will be no distinction between them and a person who isn't voting because they could care less about their civic duty. This "none" option gives disaffected voters the chance to clearly make their opinion be heard. In a sense, they can actively refuse to vote for either candidate, rather than just being lumped in with the unengaged citizens who aren't voting because they don't ever care to.
Another upside is that getting these "none" voters to the polls brings out more numbers for down-ballot races. Non-presidential races often struggle to get voter turnout, and they see a significant increase in voter participation in presidential election years. Because of the nature of the presidential race this year, those down-ballot races may lose voters. Having a "none" option may encourage more of those disaffected voters to come out, and in turn, cast more votes for state and local races... even if that vote is also for "none."
I believe the rest of the country should follow Nevada's lead, and make "none of these candidates" a mainstay on our national ballots.
Image: Bustle/Allison Gore