One Cambodian voter defaced his or her ballot with a lively reference to a dog’s anatomy. Others ticked every single box, or crossed out the entire ballot. Still others drew pictures of the sun, the symbol of the outlawed main opposition party. After Sunday’s general election, which was roundly condemned as a sham by Western governments and human rights groups, Cambodia is all but officially a one-party state. The Cambodian People’s Party of Hun Sen, the longtime prime minister, claims it captured every one of the 125 seats in Parliament. But the second-largest number of votes went to a surprising beneficiary: no one. Around 600,000 Cambodian voters, or 8.6 percent of the electorate, cast inadmissible ballots, according to the National Election Committee.
In an election featuring many age-old familiar faces, an increasingly engaged but alienated younger generation of Malaysian voters is committing to #UndiRosak, a social media sparked campaign that advocates spoiling ballots rather than voting for the candidates on offer. The youth vote is a key swing constituency, and both sides of Malaysia’s political divide are vying to win its hearts and minds ahead of what is expected to be a tight electoral race later this year. With many young voters plan to spoil rather than cast their ballots, the no-vote campaign could swing the result in unexpected ways.
Canada: Democracy Watch pushes Elections Ontario to give voters more info on refusing ballots | Toronto Star
With more Ontarians than ever flexing their non-voting rights, a national democracy watchdog is fighting to get those choosing “none of the above” to the polls this spring. In a letter penned to Elections Ontario this week, Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher threatened to launch a court challenge over allegations that information about declining a ballot was buried on the provincial agency’s website. Citizens who aren’t inspired by any of the choices on the ticket in the June 7 election have the right to formally forfeit their vote, and Elections Ontario will count it separately in the final voter turnout tally.
National: Hundreds of thousands of Americans cast a ballot without voting for a presidential candidate | The Washington Post
Nevada makes it simple. Voters in Nevada are given a choice for each race on the ballot: Candidate A, Candidate B or “none of the above,” a formal protest vote that is more or less popular depending on who candidates A and B are. In 2012, 5,770 Nevadans chose “none of the above” over Mitt Romney or President Obama, a total equaling 0.57 percent of all presidential votes cast. Obama won the state easily. In 2016, however, the results were more stark. More than 2.5 percent of the ballots cast for president in the state were “none of the above” — 28,863 in total in a race that Hillary Clinton won by 27,207. Enough protest votes to have swung the results of the election. There are protest votes in other states, too, of course; they just aren’t given space on the ballot. In most places these are called “undervotes,” ballots that are cast without a vote for the person at the top of the ticket.
The restriction for the opening of up to 35 electoral sections will be abolished for EU member-states but it will remain valid for the rest of the world, decided deputies in the legal commission who discussed at first reading the 12 draft bills for amendments to the Electoral Code. 17 days remain until the presidential elections. GERB’s proposal for the Central Election Commission (CEC) to allow, when necessary, voting, including on election day itself, in electoral sections abroad with more than one ballot box was also adopted.
A rise in the number of people deliberately voting informally is likely being driven by the young, many of whom feel disaffected with the mainstream political process, new research suggests. A paper by University of Adelaide researchers, soon to be published in the Australian Journal of Political Science, charted the rise of informal voting at recent elections and cross-referenced those trends with other data. Lead author, politics professor Lisa Hill, said the focus was on the proportion of voters who deliberately handed in blank or defaced ballots, as opposed to those that had made mistakes filling the papers out.
Canadians will be able to vote for ‘none of the above’ in an upcoming by-election after a candidate legally changed his name. Father-of-two Sheldon Bergson paid $137 to officially change his name to Above Znoneofthe in time for an Ontario election on February 11. As names on the ballot papers are listed alphabetically by their surname first, he will appear underneath the list of other candidates, as Znoneofthe Above. The candidate explained that he had changed his name to try and offer fed up voters an alternative to the main parties.
A group of political and financial figures in Taiwan, headed by former Democratic Progressive Party chair Shih Ming-teh, has initiated an unprecedented campaign to allow negative votes in elections. Voting rights in Taiwan remain incomplete, Shih argued Sunday at a function supporting the campaign after the group’s application for the establishment of a non-governmental organization, named Negative Vote Association, was approved by the Ministry of the Interior. The idea of allowing “no” votes in elections, which he described as “very progressive and original,” was first proposed by several “well-known intellectuals with successful careers,” Shih said in answering questions from reporters. “I was sold, and it is a brilliant idea,” he said. Shih said citizens of the Republic of China are endowed with the powers of election, recall, initiative and referendum, but since the ROC was established in 1911, “the only power that has been truly used is that of election.”
Nevada: ‘None of the above’ beats out all Democratic Governor candidates in Nevada | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Those few registered Democrats who bothered to vote in Tuesday’s primary might have been driven more by dissatisfaction with the party choices for governor than optimism about the slew of candidates on the ballot. In what appeared to be a protest vote over the lack of a strong challenger to GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, more Democrats opted for “None Of These Candidates” over the eight actual individuals running for the party nomination. Despite U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s pronouncement that a credible party-backed candidate would file against Sandoval, no such individual sought the office. Sandoval is expected to win re-election easily this fall. The “none” ballot option was picked by nearly 30 percent of Democratic voters, edging out Las Vegas resident Bob Goodman, who pulled about 25 percent of the vote. The other seven candidates lagged well behind. Goodman will be the party choice on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, however. Goodman ran Nevada’s economic development program under the late Gov. Mike O’Callaghan.
The New Hampshire legislature is in the early stages of considering an electoral novelty: allowing Granite State voters to cast their ballots for “none of the above.” It’s a great idea. Every state should consider similar legislation. The New Hampshire bill, proposed by state Rep. Charles Weed (D), is an unusual idea in American politics but not a unique one: Nevada has offered its voters a “none of the above” option in statewide races since 1976. The New Hampshire version appears to have “the proverbial snowball’s chance of passing the House,” says John DiStaso at the New Hampshire Union Leader. Weed’s stated motivation for a “none of the above” option is to give voters a way to lodge a meaningful protest vote. “Real choice means people have to be able to withhold their consent,” he tells The Associated Press. “You can’t do that with silly write-ins. Mickey Mouse is not as good as ‘none of the above.'” The arguments against the bill from Weed’s colleagues range from the absurd to the nonsensical. Secretary of State Bill Gardner, for example, says that voters won’t know what “none of the above” means, since ballots now list names left-to-right, not top-to-bottom.
The State Duma’s Legislation Committee on Monday approved a bill reintroducing the “none of the above” option in all elections except for those choosing a president. The ballot option was introduced in Russia in 1991 but was removed in 2006. Its planned reintroduction has been widely interpreted as an attempt by United Russia to take votes away from opposition candidates. Legislation Committee chairman Vladimir Pligin, of United Russia, said that the option would be reasonable for municipal elections but that its relevance for State Duma and regional elections was open to discussion. The bill was submitted last October by Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Federation Council, and other members of the parliament’s upper house. They argued that the option would help determine whether a particular vote was a protest vote against the ruling party or a genuine preference for a specific candidate.
Nevada’s unique “none of the above” voting option for statewide races will remain an election spoiler for the foreseeable future after the U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to consider an appeal by national Republicans. The decision came after Republicans sued in 2012 to get the option, appearing as “none of these candidates,” stricken from the ballot, fearing it could siphon votes from a disgruntled electorate and sway the outcome of close presidential races and Nevada U.S. Senate contests. The option has been on the ballot since 1976. It applies only to statewide races and was enacted by the Legislature to try to curb voter apathy in the wake of the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. The intent was to give voters a way to voice their displeasure with candidates and elected officials at the ballot box.
In a landmark judgement, Nepal’s Supreme Court has given voters the right to cast negative votes during the parliamentary or local elections. The court in the verdict yesterday also directed the government and the Election Commission to introduce laws to this effect so the voters can reject candidates, weeks after India introduced “None of the above” option. A joint bench of justices Kalyan Shrestha and Prakash Wasti issued the order responding to a writ petition filed by two advocates. With this decision, the ballot papers in coming elections will now have a separate option “none of the above” to allow voters to cast negative votes. The court in its order has asked the Prime Minister’s Office, Election Commission and the Ministry of Law Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs (MoLJPA) to ensure negative voting provision in the electoral process.
For the first time in elections in India, voters who cast ballots in recent assembly polls had the option to reject all candidates and vote for “none of the above.” The choice to do so appears to have been less popular than anticipated. Across Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, only 1.67 million voters out of a combined electorate of 115 million, chose to assert their right to register contempt for all candidates, according to figures released Sunday by the Election Commission of India. Vote counting in Mizoram where elections were also held in November began Monday in the predominantly Christian state because of petitions by church officials who said that Sunday should be reserved for religious observance. The Congress party retained power in the tiny northeastern state, where results, released by the Election Commission of India Monday, showed that the “none of the above” option was used by less than 1% (around 3,800) of voters.
Voting with their feet, 220,490 people chose to exercise the none of the above (NOTA) option, according to results known till 2.45pm on Sunday. Rajasthan, with 87,609 voters choosing the option to reject all candidates, had the highest number of NOTA voters among the states that went to the polls. In Madhya Pradesh, 43,851 voters chose the NOTA option with Shahpura constituency registering the highest number at 7,929. Keshoraipatan, a scheduled caste reserved seat in Rajasthan, saw 7,230 voters exercising this option. Bawana in Delhi saw the highest number of NOTA votes at 1,217 and the total for Delhi was 21,808.
In a landmark judgement on Friday, the Supreme Court for the first time allowed voters to cast negative vote by pressing a button saying none of the candidates is worthy of his vote. The SC asked the Election Commission to provide None Of The Above (NOTA) button on EVMs and ballot papers. The apex court said the right to vote and the right to say NOTA are both part of basic right of voters. “When a large number of voters will press NOTA button, it will force political parties to choose better candidates. Negative voting would lead to systemic change in polls,” the apex bench observed. The bench also observed that implementation of NOTA option was akin to ‘abstain option’ given to MPs and MLAs during voting in respective houses. The SC directed the EC to start implementing NOTA button on EVMs forthwith in a phased manner and asked the Centre to render all assistance.
Nevada: Ninth Circuit Seems Disinclined to Invalidate Nevada’s “None of These Candidates” Law | Ballot Access News
On March 11, the 9th circuit heard arguments in Townley v Miller, 12-16881. The hearing went badly for the people who filed the lawsuit, and those people and groups include the Nevada Republican Party. They argue that Nevada’s law, which puts “none of these candidates” on the primary and general election ballot for statewide office, discriminates against voters who choose to vote for “none of these candidates.” They argue that these voters don’t get what they want, because even if “none of these” gets a plurality, that has no effect. The problem with this argument is that it seems insincere. The people who filed the lawsuit are perceived to simply desire that “none of these candidates” be eliminated from the ballot. They don’t seem to really want “none of these” to have binding effect. They seem to be partisan Republicans who feel if “none” were removed, Republican nominees would gain an advantage in November.
According to the New York State Board of Elections, the ballot-qualified Independence Party has decided not to nominate any presidential candidate. This is the first time a ballot-qualified party in New York has declined to nominate anyone for President since 1984, when the Right to Life Party had declined to nominate anyone for President. Before that, the last time in New York state was when the Conservative Party nominated no one. However, the only reason the New York Conservative Party ran no one for President in 1968 was that the party wanted to cross-endorse the Republican nominee (Richard Nixon) but the New York Republican Party refused to let the Conservative Party cross-endorse the Republican slate.
Nevada’s “none of the above” voting option will be on the November ballot following an emergency stay sought by the secretary of state’s office and granted by a federal appeals court. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco blocked the injunction Tuesday and had strong words for U.S. District Judge Robert Jones, who last month declared the voting option unconstitutional and struck it from the ballot. One appellate judge accused Jones, chief judge in Nevada, of deliberate foot-dragging by delaying hearings in the case and not issuing a written order in time for state lawyers to appeal before ballots must be printed. “His dilatory tactics appear to serve no purpose other than to seek to prevent the state from taking an appeal of his decision before it must print the ballots,” 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote. He concluded, “Such arrogance and assumption of power by one individual is not acceptable in our judicial system.”
Nevadans can pick “none of the above” on Election Day, the 9th Circuit ruled while blasting a federal judge who tried to delay the appeal. The ruling marks a setback for Republicans who hoped to remove the unique option so that dissatisfied voters would pick Mitt Romney if forced to make a choice. Eleven voters from all parties, including former Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury and the state’s Republican Party Secretary James DeGraffenreid, sued Nevada and its secretary of state in June. The Republican National Committee sought to remove the option that has been on all Nevada ballots since 1976. Nevada is the only state to offer such an option. U.S. District Judge Robert Jones ruled in August that the state’s “none of these candidates” ballot option is unconstitutional and must be removed. But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit entered an immediate stay late Tuesday. On Wednesday, the court amended the three-page order and the lengthy concurring opinion from Judge Stephen Reinhardt.
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.”
President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney must face down a dubious and slippery opponent in Nevada this November. The mystery foe cannot be tamed with television ads and never breaks a campaign pledge. Its name is “none of these candidates.” Nevada is the only state in the nation to offer voters the quirky ballot choice, and for more than three decades, statewide candidates here have had to contend with it. But this year, nervous Republicans have filed a federal lawsuit to try to oust “none” from the ballot. They worry that “none” could siphon away a sufficient number of anti-Obama voters from Romney to throw the state to the president. And because the Silver State’s six electoral votes are some of the most hotly contested in the nation, Republicans don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Nevada: Candidates for Presidential Elector in Nevada File Lawsuit to Remove “None of the Above” from November 2012 Ballot | Ballot Access News
On June 8, two Republican nominees for presidential elector from Nevada filed a federal lawsuit, asking that “None of the Above” be removed from the November 2012 ballot and future years. The case is Townley v State of Nevada, 3:12-cv-00310. Here is the 16-page complaint. Besides the elector candidates, the complaint lists nine voter plaintiffs. Starting in 1976, Nevada has printed “none of the above” on primary and general election ballots, but only for statewide office. The lawsuit argues that because a vote for “None of the above” has no legal effect, the voters who vote for “None of the above” are being harmed, because their vote has no effect. The complaint says if a victory by “None of the above” had any legal consequences, then it would be constitutional.
During first two phases of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, over 300 voters chose not to vote for any candidate and exercised the “Section 49-o” option available to them under Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961. However, lakhs of others who did not find any contestant “suitable” preferred to skip voting by staying at home. Citizens now want that ‘no-vote’ option must be available on Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and number of such voters should be counted. During 2009 Lok Sabha (LS) and assembly polls, many exercised the Section 49-o They, however, had to face nightmares at polling booths as officers were completely unaware of this provision.
The ‘No-Vote’ option would not be available in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) for the civic polls, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and State Election Commission (SEC) informed the Bombay high court on Monday. A division bench of justice DD Sinha and justice VK Tahilramani was hearing a PIL filed by Thane doctor Mahesh Bedekar, seeking to maintain the privacy of people choosing not to vote for any candidate. An affidavit filed by chief electoral officer Debasish Chakrabarty before the high court stating that the Election Commission of India had considered the issue of providing a separate ‘None of the above’ panel in the EVMs.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) and State Election Commission (SEC) today informed the Bombay High Court that it would not be possible to install a `No Vote’ panel on the Electronic Voting Machines to be used in the municipal and Zilla Parishad elections in Maharashtra, to be held this month. The division bench headed by Justice D D Sinha was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Thane-based Dr Mahesh Bedekar, seeking no-vote option in EVMs, as the present system does not guard the secrecy of the voter casting a negative vote.
The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra Election Commission to consider including the column for ‘Negative Vote’ in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) so as to ensure secrecy.
A division bench headed by Justice D D Sinha was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Thane based doctor Mahesh Bedekar stating that when secrecy is maintained while a voter casts his vote for a candidate, the same should also be ensured when a person wants to cast a negative vote.
“By casting a negative vote, the voter decides not to vote for any of the available candidates. When a voter wishes to do so, he or she is asked to fill out a separate form and a register is also maintained with name and details of the voter. Chances of the person being harassed is there,” Sanjeev Gorwadkar, petitioner’s advocate argued.
India: Right to reject, recall may not work in India: Chief Election Commission S Y Quraishi | The Economic Times
Amid a campaign by Team Anna for polls reforms, the Election Commission has disfavoured any proposal to include the ‘Right to Reject’ or ‘Right to Recall’ clauses in election rules, saying they may not work in a large country like India.
Opposing the proposal to have a ‘Right to Recall’ as in many developed countries, Chief Election Commission S Y Quraishi has held that it will “destabilise” the country, especially in areas where “people already feel alienated”.
India: Proposal to include ‘none of above’ option on electronic voting machines pending with government, says Election Commission | India Today
Days after anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare announced his next campaign would be to get “the right to recall and reject”, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has reacted in favour.
Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, on Monday, said that a proposal to introduce the option of “none of the above” on electronic voting machines (EVMs) was already pending with the government.
India: Anna Hazare’s call on right to reject and right to recall rekindled debate over electoral concepts | The Economic Times
Anna Hazare’s call on Sunday for theright to reject and right to recall rekindled the debate about these electoral concepts that have been going on in some corners. Right to reject – the idea that there should be an option on a ballot paper (or a voting machine) to reject all candidates – has been debated in India for some time. This proposal was part of the recommendations on electoral reforms the Election Commission made to the government in 2004, when TS Krishnamurthy was chief election commissioner.
This idea is also known as negative voting or neutral voting. Currently, if a person does not wish to cast her vote for any candidate, there is an option to record this decision with the presiding officer under Section 49 (o) of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. However, this has no bearing on the poll outcome. The neutral voting concept, on the contrary, will have a bearing on the poll outcome. Various filters can be designed to disqualify a candidate rejected by a majority of the people. Swami Agnivesh and several others have been supporters on the right to reject idea.