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October 1, 2014

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Court rejects GOP challenge to Nevada’s ‘None’ ballot option

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Justin M. Bowen

Richard Trapani holds his sample ballot as he signs in to vote during the municipal primary election Tuesday at Henderson City Hall.

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Ross Miller

A federal appeals court panel has rejected Republican efforts to invalidate the results of Nevadans casting their ballots for “None of these candidates."

The GOP argued that the none of the above option took votes away from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision written by Judge Raymond Fisher, overturned the ruling by Chief District Judge Robert Clive Jones who issued a preliminary injunction to eliminate the none of the above option from the ballot.

The appeals court had previously stayed the Jones decision and allowed the option to be on the ballot for the November election.

The panel said the Republican Party and other individuals in the suit did not have standing to sue Secretary of State Ross Miller, the chief election officer for Nevada.

After the Wednesday decision, Miller issued a statement saying this was a victory for Nevada voters.

“Voters who want to express their dissatisfaction with the federal and statewide candidates on the ballot should have the option and freedom to do it,” he said.

The 1975 law allows voters to cast “None of these candidates” in federal and some statewide elections. If “none” got the most votes, it could not be declared a winner.

The panel noted in the 1980 Democratic primary election more voters cast ballots for “none” than for Ted Kennedy but primary winner Jimmy Carter narrowly won the election over “none.”

In the 2012 election, President Obama gained 52.3 percent to 45.7 percent for Romney. The none of the above option won 0.6 percent.

The panel said the GOP and the individuals who brought the suit never contested that “none" on the ballot violated federal constitutional or statutory provisions.

Judge Fisher said the GOP felt it had legal standing because those casting ballots for “none” would siphon off votes for Romney.

He wrote the GOP claimed that the “none” option should not be given legal effect. But the court said all of the individuals and the GOP did not have standing that there would be injury to the voters.

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