A True “None of the Above” Option

Back during the Nevada senatorial elections, it was often noted that voters in that state have the option to vote for “none of these candidates.”  However, this none of the above option isn’t real, insofar as even if a plurality of voters voted for said option, the winner of the office would be the candidate with the most votes.

In Colombia, however, they have a real “none of the above option” (the voto en blanco).  If en blanco wins, a new election is called with new candidates.

In this weekend’s local elections, one municipality voted for “none of the above” and so a new election will be called.

In this case there was only one candidate running, and he won 43.29% of the vote, while en blanco won 56.70%.

It must be depressing to run as an unopposed candidate and still lose.

El Pais reports:  Voto en blanco supera a candidato único a alcaldía de Bello, Antioquia

FILED UNDER: Latin America, World Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Eric says:

    That is a great idea that we can use.

  2. Tano says:

    Seems pretty dumb to me. It is based on the assumption that there are better candidates out there who would be willing to run (in the second election), but chose not to run in the first, for some reason.

    Not only better candidates, but candidates that would be perceived as better by the electorate, and thus able to defeat the NOTA vote.

  3. Matt says:

    What we need is a REAL none of the above, where if none of the above wins, that position is eliminated (at least for the term).

    Could be interesting.

  4. A voice from another precinct says:

    The story reminds me of one from my early years as a working adult.

    I was working as a Teamster at the time and our election of secretary/treasurer had come. The president of the local noted that the candidate was running on a “white ballot” (unopposed) for the fourth straight time and how proud we must all be at the vote of confidence in his leadership that this represented.

    I noted that the ballot had two lines, one with his name and the other marked “:No.” I asked what the no-slot was for and was told that if anyone objected to his election, that person could vote “no” instead. It was subsequently determined that the no vote was meaningless–he would be reappointed even if no one voted for him.

    The next question was why have the “No” option at all. The president responded that above all, the Teamsters were a democratic organization. Not giving people an opportunity to vote against the candidate would be co-opting their right to choose and would therefore be undemocratic and contrary to the principles of the union.

    He was reelected unanimously and democracy was saved once again.