Pundits and politicians are concerned that the young people of Canada and the United States have lost interest in politics. This they deduce from the fact that a large percentage of young people don't vote.

I wonder if they have considered that not voting can be a decision -- an informed decision, no less. Maybe we should be amazed at how few people pay attention to what politicians actually do, and this fact we deduce from the fact that they do vote.

Here's what I propose, to increase voter turnout among "young people": Put "none of the above" on each and every ballot, as an option. Count those votes, along with those for candidates. If more than 50 per cent of the people vote for "none of the above", the election is held again. This time, none of the original candidates are allowed to run. This continues until the people find someone they want to vote for.

I can hear the objection: The electoral system wouldn't function. Democracy would grind to a halt. But think about this: isn't it true that democracy should grind to a halt when over 50 per cent of the people don't think that any of the people offering to represent them are worthy of the job?

Piq: Your objection is interesting, but just read the above paragraph. Could you respond to that, please? You say that the president would lack popular support. Does this mean that the president, as it stands now, does have popular support?

Actually, the "none of the above" idea was used in the USSR's version of Communism. Of course, all the candidates were members of the Russian Communist party, and any new ones that were on the ballot weren't much different from those on the original set of candidates.


Piq: You are correct. Even though the option was there, most people did not take advantage of it for those very reasons.

     This would be incredibly ineffective because we would end up without a majority nomination. While a blatant majority of the populace might not want $Repub or $Democ, their collective nomination of one third party president is unlikely at best. Some would vote for the extreme left, some for an extreme conservative, some libertarian, etc. While this works in a parliamentary system, it would fail horribly when used to elect a singular figurehead. The President would lack popular support and would certainly not be able to work with the congress. It's a great concept, but like so many others it can't really be applied to the American political machine.

Embers: True, they did have that. They even had candidates who weren't Communists. Oddly enough, few people voted for them, and often those same people ran intro problems finding jobs down the road.

Artfuldodger: While the current president may not have popular 'support,' as in the majority of the people standing behind his actions, he does have minority support and popular apathy. I doubt that this is a good thing, however it appears to work at least to some extent. The real beef I have with "None of the above" is that it implies absolute cluelessness as to who the leader should be. As I stated before, those people who select "None of the above" will belong to many factions and any one of their individual leaders will bring forth violent opposition by the other factions as well as the mainstream, making the position less than productive.

Artfuldodger: True, possibly it should grind to a halt. However, do you expect it to present the people with that option? It seems more reasonable that the status quo gov't would do all it can to keep any dissidents out of power and maintain the appearance of a supportive public.

It's not that I've lost interest in voting, it's just that all of the major advertising parties simply suck. The Liberal party is corrupt and ignores the opinions of Westerners. The Canadian Alliance is very right wing, they want to bring up some issues of human rights that should be left as they are, and they want to renegotiate native treaties. The Progressive Conservative party is responsible for nearly every major tax that our country has had in the last two decades. And the NDP party, well, no sane person in British Columbia would vote for them after all the wasted money and corruption here.

That leaves the Bloc Quebecois, which has had seperatist leaning for years, and besides, doesn't campaign out west here. There is the Green Party, which has an admirable philosophy, but kind of rubs me the wrong way with their talk of banning GM foods, which may conceivably save millions of lives a year (Correct me if I'm wrong, please). There's the Canadian Unity Party, which seems to be a bit too religiously backed for my tastes (Not that that is so wrong, but it just bothers me).

And then there is the Canadian Action Party, which seems to care about the same basic things I do, and has no particular policies that I disagree with. Since they are the lesser of many evils, I can safely choose to vote for my local candidate, Will Arlow.

Oh, and don't complain about that lesser of evils thing, I know a lot of you Americans did the same thing in your election. I mean come on, Gore vs. Bush?

http://www.canadianactionparty.ca/
http://www.canadianactionparty.ca/MainPages/Ridings.asp?Province=BC&ID=59017&Language=English
In the year 2000, The state of California had Proposition 23 on their ballot, where voting citizens could vote to have the option of None of the Above to future elections. In an ideal world, the definition for None of the Above would be a vote of no confidence for any individual running for a particular political office. However, this is misleading. This is not an ideal world.

http://www.noneoftheabove.net
None of the Above is a North Carolina bluegrass band. Did you know that?

http://www.expage.com/noneoftheaboveband
None of the Above is the name of a garage band in Latham, New York. Bet you didn't know that.

It's also the name of a song by Duran Duran.

There is also a man somewhere in this country who has chosen to legally change his name to None of the Above, hoping that some day that phrase will achieve a majority in an election, and he can step in on a technicality and claim the seat. Would that work? Probably not, but such a thing could take up a lot of time in the courts. At any rate, my point is, when you vocally announce or silently write or punch a chad in a punch card or otherwise vote for None of the Above you are still voting for something that exists in the universe, which is counterproductive to the act itself. Further, there are organizations which take up this nomenclature for various reasons, each potentially meaning well, but indirectly diluting the purpose of this phrase. By being a None of the Above organization, they defeat the purpose of voting for that phrase. If you vote None of the Above, you want to vote for nothing, correct? Yet since entities claim that nomenclature, you are inneffectively voting for something when you vote for nothing.

Catch-22: This is like going to a nondenominational church.

None of the Above is already an option in Nevada and other parts of the USA. In fact some countries of the world have adopted it. However it is at present not a viable option for the US as a whole, considering how our voting system in America is designed to purposefully squelch out any votes of nonconfidence. In theory, every time a single registered voter chooses not to vote in a given election, be it because they feel it a complete waste of time, or are simply too busy, or they forget, that abscent vote should immediately be registered numerically into the total as a vote of no confidence. It is not. Because of this, our entire voting system is irrelevant and purposeless. The voice of the American people is not being heard. In Australia, where all citizens are required to vote by law, a NOTA vote makes sense. However, in the USA it simply dilutes the minority of active voters even further, all to the advantage of the corrupt politician, who takes these variables into account when he vindictively connives his way into office.

If you have ever stood in a room filled with people, but not a single person is speaking, you know as well as I how strong and profound such silence can be. Yet that is deemed irrelevant and is ignored by our society, which is why our political system is inherently such a joke. Something this basic and obvious is void in our political system. Our present voting system only counts those individuals who actually speak out, ignoring those who fall silent, as if a registered voter's silence is less important to the total as a registered voter who joins a chorus. Further, someone who jokingly or in all seriousness chooses to vote for Mickey Mouse is ignored, for he is not speaking in unison with one of the two main choirs. The concept of adding none of the above to the political ticket is yet another red herring to insure for all politicians everywhere that the status quo will be upheld, and that the voice of the true majority in this country, the silent majority, is forever ignored in favor of the noisy minority.

We cannot have true democracy in America or anywhere so long as the mute are considered dumb.

For more information:

http://www.nota.org
http://www.votenoa.com
http://www.homestead.com/none_of_the_above_party
http://www.nader96.org/bnota.htm
http://europe.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/03/04/noneoftheabove
http://hep.physics.wisc.edu/~jnb/nota.html
http://hep.physics.wisc.edu/~jnb/nota_alternate.html
http://www.cascadepolicy.org/nota.htm

Actually, for Adelaide University Union elections, there is a No Candidate option on the ballot. The election is run as an ordinary preferential ballot, except if No Candidate wins an absolute majority then the position is left vacant.

They also have Council Vacant for ballots where multiple vacancies are to be filled. These are filled using Hare-Clark proportional representation, except if Council Vacant wins more than half first preference votes then all positions are vacant.

I would like to see them do something like this in parliamentary elections. I suppose if that were tried, though, and three parties were equally strong and equally opposed, there would be a lot of half-empty parliaments.

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