None of the above


Dmitry Orlov recently posted a neat idea, that when in the voting booth, vote randomly.   The arguments for this are pretty interesting, and he also gives some other sage advice (no party affiliation, when responding to a poll, say ‘undecided’).

What if we went a step further, though?  With two truly random coin tosses, you will be adding randomly to the tally of Clinton, Trump, Stein or Johnson.   With Stein and Johnson being distant third/third fourth, the effect of this will be boosting their poll numbers.    If 900 out of 1000 voters vote with 400 for Trump, 400 for Clinton, 50 for Stein and 50 for Johnson, we’ve got 100 voters left (44.4% for Trump/Clinton, 5.6% for Stein/Johnson).  If they vote according to the distribution above, out of the remaining 100, 40 voters go for Clinton/Trump, and 10 each for Stein/Johnson).    The percentages stay the same.   If, however, those 100 vote randomly, they add 25 to each vote count, so the percentages become 42.5% for the major candidates, and 7.5% for the minor party candidates.

This makes minority candidates stand out, but doesn’t influence the final details.  Yes, there will be chaos, and yes, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But what if it was possible to send an even more direct message?  What about another option?

The capability exists in most polling places to write in a candidate (this was mentioned by Cortes on Club Orlov in the comments).  What if those 10% of the people who were intent on flipping a coin, wrote in simply “None of the above.”   Flipping a coin is certainly one option, yet writing in your dissatisfaction with the candidates and process might be another way to signal that things are wrong.  With truly random voting, we’ll never know if the independent candidates rallied, or if it was just chance that boosted their poll numbers (of course, this is Dmitry’s point!).

The key here is the as many people as possible write in “None of the above,” so that there isn’t any bias at all – it is simply random, and a statement of protest.  Only the clear message, we aren’t getting quality candidates, needs to be sent.

My own decision is still up in the air.   It’s a mess, for sure, and many don’t like either candidate.

Perhaps the bumper sticker “None of the Above” is one we should have.


  • Are these theoretical options just whining (voting randomly, or voting ‘None of the above’)?  Shouldn’t we pick the lesser of the evils?  Winston Churchill, at one point during the war, quipped, “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”
  • My long standing question has always, always been – who do you want to run, on either side of the aisle, who might even have a passing probability of being elected?
  • If we throw out the ‘probability of being elected’, who else would you nominate?  Besides folks like Amanda Palmer, Dmitry Orlov (he can’t be elected president, being born overseas), John Michael Greer (who probably doesn’t want the job), or any one of the folks who ‘gets’ our resource problem (and who seem to be NOT sociopaths, on the whole), who would you choose?
  • How concerned are you about electronic voting fraud?  There are stories circulating that make you wonder.   If that ever came out as a true, verifiable story, it would shake our nation to the core.
  • When you are in a difficult and bad situation, one way  to analyze things is to ask, “How did we get here?”   Yes, you can cue the Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime.  How did we get here?

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