A quirky Nevada law that Republicans feared could siphon votes from a disgruntled electorate and sway the outcome of close presidential and U.S. Senate races in the state was struck down Wednesday by a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Robert Jones said the state’s decades-old ballot alternative of “none of the above” was unconstitutional because votes for “none” don’t count in the final tallies that determine winners. The ruling came at the end of a lively hearing where the judge challenged both sides in the legal arguments with hypothetical questions and ramifications of possible rulings he was considering. In the end, he struck the option down altogether for both federal and statewide races, and refused to grant a stay while his decision is appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Secretary of State Ross Miller said his office would pursue “an immediate and expedited appeal to protect the long-standing public interest of the ‘none of these candidates’ option.”
A federal lawsuit filed in June and bankrolled by the Republican National Committee argued Nevada’s unique voter option, which has appeared on every election ballot for statewide races since 1976, disenfranchises voters because it’s a perpetual loser. Under state law, even if “none” receives the most votes, it doesn’t win. Victory is reserved for people, though “none” before has played a role in determining the winner in some high-profile races. “We’re glad we were successful in our efforts to bring clarity to the Nevada presidential election ballot,” the RNC said in a statement when asked for comment.