Cure Voter Apathy: Let Them Vote “None of the Above”

Low voter turnout is often taken as a sign of voter apathy: voters don’t care enough to take the time to show up and vote. But there are other reasons for not voting. I know many people who choose not to vote because they believe the whole system is corrupt and they don’t want to be participants. Others don’t vote because they do not believe any candidates are worthy of their votes.

One solution is to offer voters the option of “None of the Above” in every election where candidates are running for office. If NOTA receives the highest vote share, then the office would remain vacant until another election is held and a candidate outpolls NOTA. I am not the first one to think of this, as this website shows. My guess is that many non-voters would flock to the polls if the NOTA option were available.

Some might criticize this idea on the grounds that it could leave many elective offices vacant for extended periods of time; others would view this as another advantage of the NOTA option rather than a liability.

Randall G. Holcombe is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas.
Posts by Randall G. Holcombe | Full Biography and Publications
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