See important updates at end of story
Exactly one month ago, on October 4, I wrote about the possibility that two enduring characteristics of Nevada elections–a ban on write-in votes and inclusion of the option to vote for “None of These Candidates”–could determine the next president of the United States in a close national race.
My scenario is on the verge of coming true.
This afternoon, political pundits say that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. can amass the needed 270 electoral votes if he captures Nevada–which he’s now leading in. In this roadmap he wouldn’t have to take Pennsylvania or Georgia, where he is behind President Donald J. Trump but also where a huge number of ballot from heavily Democratic areas remain to be counted.
Since I am New To Las Vegas, allow me to elaborate on Nevada, where the office of the overwhelmed Nevada Secretary of State now says counted-vote summaries won’t be updated until Thursday morning at 9 am PT. But as of noon Wednesday, the official Nevada tally, with 86% of the estimated vote counted, was this:
|None of These Candidates||10,391||0.9%|
Biden is 7,647 votes ahead of Trump. That’s less than the 10,391 voters who opted for “None of These Candidates.”
This is significant because Nevada political experts long have thought NOTC draws far more regular votes from Republican candidates than it does from Democratic candidates. Indeed, in 2012 Republican National Committee supported a failed lawsuit to get NOTC off the ballot.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the state by 27,020 votes over Trump. NOTC drew more–28,863.
It was in 1975 that the Nevada Legislature added “None of These Candidates” in the wake of the Watergate scandal that drove Richard Nixon from office, supposedly to keep Republican voter from simply tuning out future elections. The preamble to the legislation said the intent was so that “any voter may express his lack of confidence in presidential candidates or candidates for statewide office.”
One thing we all probably can agree on: The unexpected closeness of the 2020 presidential race is proving to be a mandate for no one. “None of These Candidates” seems to capture this element.