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Mark W. Schleisner Headshot

Voting for Nobody as a 2012 Election Option

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With Washington DC politics in 2011 resembling a non-stop food fight, you may be disgusted enough to want to stay home on Election Day in 2012. I'd like to suggest a possibly more satisfying option: going to the polls and voting for nobody.

I've actually seen this election option in action. Granted, the election I'm citing was held in communist East Germany back in 1988, but it did allow voting for nobody.

True story! Some East Berlin friends invited me to watch them vote at a local government polling place. There were three election officials giving each citizen a ballot sheet with a single list of candidates' names chosen by the Communist Party. Voters had the easy option of simply depositing the sheet in a ballot box at the officials' table to indicate approval of the candidates.

However, there was an alternative option -- going to a curtained booth and voting for nobody by crossing out all the names before dropping the ballot in the box. Of course, this option allowed the Communist officials to note who the malcontented voters were, but that didn't stop my friends -- and others -- from going to the booths anyway.

One young man with a shaved head even exercised his right to vote for nobody by crossing out the names directly in front of the officials before casting his vote. After witnessing voters' discontent such as this, I was not totally surprised that the Berlin Wall fell in the year following this election and that the offending regime's politicians fell from power.

Now I am not claiming that America in any way resembles East Germany. But I see no reason why American voters in 2012 cannot use the East German voting option to express their displeasure with our current crop of political candidates.

So here's a voting-for-nobody suggestion for Election Day 2012: go to your polling place, ask for a paper ballot, go to your booth and cross out every single name on the ballot. Then hand in the ballot and leave. Our political system will not allow such an option to be counted, but the odds are pretty good that you will feel much better.

Heck, if enough people vote for nobody, the food-fighters in Washington might even notice how discontented we are with their shenanigans. So why not give it a try? Nothing else seems to get their attention.