"When Thomas Jefferson saw the purpose of representative government as counteracting the "excesses of the monied interest," he was recognizing that democracy's central point is to work on the maldistribution of power and make it more susceptible to reordering, challenge, displacement and where, particularly extreme, being outlawed.
American history has marked this progress by abolishing slavery, expanding the franchise to include women and minorities, applying the anti-trust laws, giving workers the right to bargain collectively with industries and providing access to the courts by wrongfully injured or defrauded citizens who can seek justice against the perpetrators.
But democracy always needs upgrading and modernizing to give people the edge over new concentrations of power and its abuses. NOTA is a universally accessible tool that, together with other substantive issues for achieving justice, can help change the content and nature of political campaigning. NOTA is one of those simple inexpensive ideas, not a panacea by any means, that has the potential to galvanize the streams of just reforms in a society that needs more democracy, not less, to diminish or solve many of its problems. " Ralph Nader, 1996
We can start NOTA in Arkansas, and see if the rest of the nation will catch up:
We need ballots that allow voters the option to choose "None Of The Above" (NOTA) on the candidate choices. Citizens can vote "No" on any referendum, so why not have the same freedom to vote "No" on an array of candidates?
The election period is part of the vetting process and often voters only learn the most important information just before the election when it is too late for any other candidates to throw in their hat. For decades voters have been frustrated with having to choose between the lesser of two evils. As more is learned about the candidates in the run-up to the election day there is no option to address their disenchantment.
Voters are told,"well in the next election you simply vote out the bums". But wait, just before they get into office there needs to be a way to stop the freight train of bums. If all of the voters' choices are bad, then it makes no sense to sheepishly accept poor voter turnout and several years of bad leadership.
I accept that part of the reason for low voter turnout is due to laziness and apathy. However, a lousy set of choices among candidates seems to be a plausible answer too for voter apathy.
The proposal is to put an optional check box below the candidates' names labelled "NONE OF THE ABOVE. In the vote count if the "NOTA's" outnumber every one of the candidates' tallies then a another election is ordered and the previous candidates have to sit out the rerun election. This modification would change the dynamics for the candidates and the elections would no longer be dumbed-down, or a matter of voting for the lesser of two evils as the current process is often described. Not only does the candidate have to win more votes than the opposition but actually win public approval to avoid being scratched altogether. Public approval is after all what an election should be about in the first place.
To more fully exercise a democratic privilege, the voters need the option to request a new slate of candidates at the polls. Some might argue that RCV (Ranked Choice Voting) absolves all issues, but RCV will assure that some one in a group of stinkers will get into office when the public would prefer to not have any stinkers become elected.