“None of the above”

 Some voters may wonder why they should go to vote and then fill out the ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot paper. What’s the point in doing this and how will it benefit me and my society if I vote for ‘nobody’?

The reason is both simple and complex. Having a ‘none of the above’ option allows you as a voter to show disapproval of all the current candidates listed in the voting system. This is based on the principle that one should be able to withhold consent in order to achieve real consent.

none of the above

All across the globe there are states and countries where ‘none of the above’ is already part of the voting system. This includes the U.S.A. states of Nevada, Greece, Spain, Colombia and Pakistan. Even Russia used to have such an option until it was abandoned back in 2006.

History

In order to understand what the ‘none of the above’ option can do in political matches it’s good to look back at the past and learn from it. Back in 1991, during the Soviet elections that eventually led to the break-up of the Soviet-Union, there was a Russian version of the ‘none of the above’ voting option.

It turned out that many people didn’t agree with any of the current candidates and therefore voted ‘none of the above’. Ultimately this led to new elections with more than 200 new candidates of the 1500 seat Congress. This in turn resulted in more than 100 candidates of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union being defeated in a run-off. Then President Boris Yeltsin later admitted that the ‘none of the above’ option ‘made people realize they have real power, even in a rigged election’. It turned out to play a huge role in building true democracy after the fall of the Communist Soviet Union.

There are also cases were the ‘none of the above’ option would’ve actually won the election. This was the case in one of Nevada’s (USA) more recent regional elections. However, because no one actually taught that no one would win the elections, the runner-up was elected winner eventually.

In Spain people also have the option to vote ‘none of the above’. However, due to Spanish voting regulations the ‘none of the above’ option (voto en blanco) has little chance to actually to influence the distribution of seats in the parliament. It is more so considered a statistical representation of the people’s disapproval of the current candidates and mostly fulfills the role of increasing the amount of valid votes.