LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s perpetual loser didn’t triumph on Election Day, but “none of the above” played a familiar role — not as an outright spoiler, but as a pesky sideline heckler.
In Nevada’s fiercely fought U.S. Senate race, nearly 45,000 people opted for “none of these candidates” over Republican Sen. Dean Heller and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Shelley Berkley. Another 48,000 votes went to a third party candidate. Combined, those votes accounted for roughly 10 percent of ballots cast.
Heller won by 12,000 votes to retain the seat he was elevated to last year by Gov. Brian Sandoval after John Ensign resigned amid a sex scandal and ethics investigation.
David Damore, political science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the “none” option and Independent American Party candidate David Lory Vanderbeek siphoned votes from Heller.
In comparison, less than 1 percent voted for none in the presidential race.
“I think it points to the nature of that campaign,” Damore said. “It was so negative. It didn’t give anybody a reason to vote for them.”
Nevada is the only state that offers “none” as a voting option in statewide races for president, U.S. Senate, state constitutional officers and Nevada Supreme Court justices. “None” can never win an election. Victory is reserved for people.
Earlier this year, the Republican National Committee sued in federal court to try to evict “none” from the Nevada ballot, where it’s been a quirky contestant since 1976. The RNC feared its presence on the ballot could take votes from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Heller, possibly sabotaging the outcome of close races.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jones ruled “none” was unconstitutional and ordered it struck from the ballot, but Secretary of State Ross Miller appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, where a three-judge panel gave “none” a reprieve while the case proceeds.
“None” went head-to-head Tuesday in three other statewide races involving the Nevada Supreme Court. Justices Michael Cherry, Michael Douglas and Nancy Saitta drew no human opposition and cruised to new six-year terms. In each race, “none” garnered a quarter of votes cast.
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