Nevada votes for none of the above
June 11th, 2014
09:04 AM ET
6 months ago

Nevada votes for none of the above

(CNN) - In a race like this, nobody wins. Actually, in a race like the primary for governor in Nevada on Tuesday night, if nobody wins, then the runner-up wins. That’s because of a nearly 40-year-old initiative in Nevada that lets voters select “none of these candidates” on the ballot.

The vote is in, and "none of these candidates" is the top vote getter in the Nevada Democratic governor's primary.

The “none” option got 30%, ahead of all eight human candidates. The top real person, Robert Goodman, got 24.9%, far outpacing the rest of the field.

But "none of these candidates" can't win under state law, so Goodman will be the nominee.

This is not the first time “none” has won in Nevada.

When Nevada became the first state to institute a “none of the above” line to its ballot in 1975, it was described as a way for voters to register protest. But the option has become a lesson in what the late German economist Horst Siebert called the cobra effect.

In colonial India, the British government, concerned about the number of venomous cobras in Delhi, offered a bounty for every dead one. So people farmed cobras, killed them and turned them in for the bounties. When the government caught on to the ruse, it stopped the bounties and the farmers freed the cobras.

As in the cobra case, there are unintended consequences when protest candidates lose votes from voters choosing to vote for nobody rather than a candidate. In Nevada, the incumbent usually wins out.

In 1976, “none of these candidates” outpolled the two human contenders in a Republican primary race for Nevada’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. And, because “none” is not allowed to win (the ballot option is nonbinding), Walden Earhart - rejected by voters with only half the votes “nobody” garnered - won the nomination. He went on to lose promptly to Democrat Jim Santini, the incumbent in the general election.

Tuesday’s primary results are flipped from 1976. The Republican primary winner in that race was “no one,” and the runner-up lost to the incumbent Democrat. As of Tuesday, the Democratic primary winner, who was “none of these candidates,” will acquiesce to Goodman, who will face GOP incumbent Gov. Brian Sandoval in November.

In January, the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal to get "none" removed as an option.

CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2014 • Nevada
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    The people are beginning to realize that our country is under the control of organized crime. The government is criminal.

    June 11, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. Janet Nappylotto

    We need more "None of the above" options.
    A. It is an act that tells the Govenment we are tired of how they are running things

    B. it is an act that tells the Government that we are tired of picking from the lesser of two evils and deserve to vote for the best if the best

    C. It is an act that tells the Government we are fed up of the status quo

    D. It is an act that neuters these arrogant politicians who stand behind "you voted for me" when they do something wrong. Sorry, bub. Your in office by default and are in office on borrowed time.

    June 11, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Gurgyl

    --that organized crime was under Bush, Reagan–long gone. Today you can at least have health insurance, and your stocks are way up proving a strong capitalistic society. Don't rant on color, race because people are not caring these anymore–good lucks in electronic era in Democracy. America is a democratic nation not republican.

    June 11, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  4. drake mallard

    “I have an idea about voting, how about on every ballot we include "None of the above". People may laugh at that, but what that is, it is a vote of no confidence in your government and I'm willing to bet that in some elections, 'None of the Above' would win. Imagine if you won the election but lost to 'None of the Above'. Wouldn't that make you re-think your positions?”

    June 11, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. Bessy

    Janet Nappylotto
    We need more "None of the above" options.
    A. It is an act that tells the Govenment we are tired of how they are running things

    B. it is an act that tells the Government that we are tired of picking from the lesser of two evils and deserve to vote for the best if the best

    C. It is an act that tells the Government we are fed up of the status quo

    D. It is an act that neuters these arrogant politicians who stand behind "you voted for me" when they do something wrong. Sorry, bub. Your in office by default and are in office on borrowed time.
    --------------------------------

    Good for Nevada. Totally agree with you Janet. It is about time that the people in this country let these politicians know we are tired of their nonsense.

    June 11, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. smith

    @Gurgyl-You might wanna check out the CNN`s money section and update yourself on todays economic hardships.

    June 11, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. HenryMiller

    @Rick McDaniel: "The people are beginning to realize that our country is under the control of organized crime. The government is criminal."

    "There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."

    –Mark Twain

    June 11, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    In January, the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal to get "none" removed as an option.
    -------------------------
    I assume that they mean the Nevada Supreme Court. In either case, this is not an issue for the courts to decide. It would be legislating from the bench. Why is this law still on the books?

    June 11, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. Boomer in Mo

    I've been known to refuse to vote for any candidates in a race rather than the least worst one. Wish MO had a none of the above and if "None" won, there had to be an entirely new slate of candidates put forht

    June 11, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  10. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Nevada votes for none of the above ???

    But... but... GOVERNMENT is EVERYTHING !!!

    It doe's NOT matter how you define... "is"
    PERIOD

    FORWARD
    # PUBLIC UNIONS FOREVER
    Hope & Change
    Yes WE Can

    June 11, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. Sniffit

    "The people are beginning to realize that our country is under the control of organized crime.

    The "people" in this instance are Democrats who voted in Nevada's CLOSED primary process (meaning this couldn't have been the result of people outside the party trying to skew the result via "tactical voting"). Therefore, the only thing this whacky result really shows is that registered Dems in NV were very dissatisfied with the candidates their party offered them. It should be a warning to the state party that they need to get their crap together...but there's really no grand and global "the people" principle to extrapolate from it at all.

    June 11, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  12. Malory Archer

    Sniffit
    "What? Is this the new Tea Party Voter language? Please keep posting. You’re a hoot!

    Ikr!! And they have the mitigated gall to question President Obama's intelligence. I read another one earlier today under a closed topic and all I could say was "What"?"

    C'mon guys...we can be nicer than that. Let's stick to slamming the substance of their arguments instead :-)

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Therein lies the problem. It's impossible to ascertain if there's any substance IN that word salad!

    June 11, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. Sniffit

    "Therein lies the problem. It's impossible to ascertain if there's any substance IN that word salad!"

    Yeah, but I think it's being produced for reasons best not made fun of...

    June 11, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Malory Archer says:
    June 11, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am
    Sniffit
    “What? Is this the new Tea Party Voter language? Please keep posting. You’re a hoot!

    Ikr!! And they have the mitigated gall to question President Obama’s intelligence. I read another one earlier today under a closed topic and all I could say was “What”?”

    C’mon guys…we can be nicer than that. Let’s stick to slamming the substance of their arguments instead :-)

    Therein lies the problem. It’s impossible to ascertain if there’s any substance IN that word salad!

    Thank you Mallory! That's what I responded but got zapped... What substance?

    June 11, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. Marie MD

    I guess the sane citizens of the US are finally tired to the don't trad on me teaklans and their koch leaders.
    Maybe they will now go back to the allowing people to vote on the weekends and extend voting days and times during the week.
    Wow! Couldn't have happened to a worse bunch of hypocrites!
    Cantor found out the hard way last night, I also heard his morning that there was a fist fight or two at his headquarters. Probably the same offices somebody when he was trying to get sympathy votes threw a rock through the window. Something they copies from an Obama 2008 DNC office.

    June 11, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. Marcus (from...?)

    Sniffit – I think that the (R) in this ticker didn't realized that, even after you told them that this was a CLOSED primary.

    Moderate Sean – Thanks for the info, and you're right, both are pretty new to the field which will make the race very interesting.

    June 11, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |