CBS 2 School: What If No One Wins?

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The 2 Teachers

The 2 Teachers, Dan Larsen and Andy Conneen (Credit: CBS)

Opinion polls have been predicting whether Democrats or Republicans will control Congress after next week’s elections, but Nevada voters have an odd 3rd choice.

Voters in Nevada’s statewide elections have the choice between candidates on the ballot and the additional choice of NOTA (None of the Above.)

All Congressional elections feature single-member districts that don’t provide any incentive for candidates who finish 2nd or less. Alternative parties occasionally break through and capture a congressional seat, but the rules of our electoral system foster a two-party system dominated by the Democrats and Republicans.

Nevada’s None of the Above option allows voters to express their displeasure for the candidates in a particular office, but the results are non-binding. If NOTA secures more votes than any of the candidates, the next highest vote earner is deemed the winner of the election.

The NOTA option might be an enticing choice for Illinois voters fed up with the chorus of negative ads. After months of listening to campaign rhetoric, it’s not unusual for voters to know the candidates from both sides as nothing but a bunch of self-interested liars.

Before succumbing to the temptation of NOTA, it’s important to recognize that the length of our electoral system practically forces us into a perceived choice between the lesser of two evils.

Because of primary nominating elections, our campaign process lasts much longer than any other country’s. Remember that in 2010, we nominated these candidates in February. That means they campaigned for months just to get the opportunity to bash their opponents for another 9 months.

Given the energy and time that these candidates spend getting voters to try to despise their opponents, it’s not surprising that we forget the impressive qualifications of some of these candidates.

Pat Quinn has spent most of his political life fighting for substantial reforms in Springfield, and Bill Brady is no political newcomer to Illinois politics having served in the General Assembly since 1993.

Mark Kirk has developed a reputation as a policy wonk from his service as a congressional staffer and in his 10-year service as a U.S. Representative. Alexi Giannoulias might be young, but his statewide election as Treasurer in 2006 and his service in that position reminds us that he knows how to connect with voters and work to serve in a governmental capacity.

After more than 12 months of campaigning, it’s inevitable to see major flaws in all of our high-profile candidates. But we still can’t see voting for None of the Above, even if it was an option in Illinois this year.

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