Tag Archives: Elections

Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC mailing

In a campaign for Sedgwick County Commission, the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC whips up a lie in order to criticize a candidate.

In a postcard paid for by the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee, Richard Ranzau is criticized: “Ranzau also suggested that Wichita annex a large local job-creating aerospace employer to generate more tax revenue.”

This claim is based on a farcical interpretation of what the commissioner actually said.

Excerpt from Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC mailing. Click for larger.

The postcard references as the source of the remarks, “Sedgwick County Commissioners Meeting Transcript, 4/18/18.” If you look at this transcript, here’s what Ranzau said: 1

Additionally, Spirit is not in the city of Wichita. It’s an industrial district, this is an agreement between the city and Wichita. If they would be annexed by the City of Wichita, taxes would go up by over nine mills. Okay. So that saves them $532,000 a year over the 20 years of this evaluation, I mean that’s $10.6 million. I think we should get credit for doing that to help them out. Okay? There’s other things that are out there that haven’t been quantified, and there’s things like I’ve say at the state level that should still come to fruition later on.

The problem with the Wichita Chamber PAC’s claim is this: Ranzau did not suggest that Wichita annex Spirit. He merely illustrated that property taxes within the City of Wichita are higher than those outside the city.

(Here’s the data: The total mill levy in the industrial district where Spirit is currently located is 114.895. The new facility, in the Wichita city limits, has a mill levy of 124.244. So, within Wichita, the tax rate is higher by 9.349 mills. 2)

The Wichita Chamber Regional PAC has attributed to Ranzau something he did not say. The Chamber’s PAC’s claim is not even close to what Ranzau said.

The Wichita Chamber Regional PAC is lying. It should retract the accusation and apologize not only to Richard Ranzau, but also to the voters of Sedgwick County. It is they who are harmed by lies such as this.

Hugh Nicks is Ranzau’s opponent in the August primary election. The Wichita Chamber PAC supports Nicks with mailings like this. Let’s ask Hugh Nicks if he supports the Wichita Regional Chamber PAC lying about Ranzau.


Notes

  1. Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners. Meeting detail, April 18, 2018. Available at https://sedgwickcounty.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=602255&GUID=CCB97C42-38F7-421C-85C5-05676B65D89B.
  2. “The total mill levy in the industrial district is 114.895. The new facility, in the City limits, has a mill levy of 124.244. So, within the City, the tax rate is higher by 9.349 mills. Tax levies in the industrial district include County Fire, Township and South Central Kansas Library District. They total 23.318 mills. Tax levies in the City limits exclude these three and add 32.667 mills for the City of Wichita. Spirit’s tax savings due to the lower tax rate is approximately $532,000.” Email from Brent Shelton, Economic Development & Tax System Director, Sedgwick County Division of Finance. April 12, 2018.

From Pachyderm: Candidates for State Board of Education, District 7

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Candidates for State Board of Education, District 7. Republican candidates appearing are Robert M. D’Andrea and Ben Jones. This was recorded on July 20, 2018.

Kenneth Willard is the current member for district 7. He is not seeking election. The winner of the August primary election will meet the Democratic party candidate in the November general election.

The Kansas State Board of Education has ten districts, each being composed of four Kansas Senate districts. District 7 covers portions of central and east-central Kansas, including these cities: Alma, Emporia, Matfield Green, Marion, McPherson, Ellsworth, Lyons, Hutchinson, Kingman, Newton, and portions of North Sedgwick County, but not including Wichita.

Shownotes

  • Robert M. D’Andrea on Facebook
  • Ben Jones on Facebook
  • A map of Kansas State Board of Education district 7 is here
  • A map of all Kansas State Board of Education districts is available here

Is the pursuit of intergovernmental grants wise?

Is the pursuit of intergovernmental grants wise? Would local governments fund certain programs if the money was not seen as “free?”

An eariler version of this article failed to distinguish Jim Howell’s position from the majority of candidates. I regret the error.

At a forum of candidates for Sedgwick County Commission, the subject of intergovernmental grants was discussed. All candidates except for current commissioners Richard Ranzau and Jim Howell were fully in favor — enthusiastic, even — of the grant system. Both Ranzau and Howell expressed skepticism of the wisdom and efficacy of the grant system.

Other candidates participating in the forum had several justifications for accepting intergovernmental grants: It’s our tax money we sent to Washington or Topeka, it’s foolish not to try to get back our tax money, the grants are already funded, the money will simply go somewhere else. There are a few problems with these lines of reasoning.

First, the grants are not “already paid for.” Since the federal government runs a deficit, we’re not paying the entire cost of government. To say that some things (program A, B, and C) are paid for, and other things (programs D, E, and F) are not paid for, is making artificial distinctions that can’t be justified.

But deficit spending (on grants or other things) makes sense to politicians who want to deliver more government services than are being paid for by current levels of taxation. Federal and state grants make sense to local politicians and bureaucrats who want to be able to say they “won” federal or state dollars, so that the county or city can spend at no one’s cost. That’s how grant money is often characterized: Spending at no one’s cost.

But politicians and bureaucrats across the nation make the same argument. We all wind up spending money at no one’s cost, so they say.

Then: We must “try to get back our tax money.” This highlights another absurdity of government grants. We pay taxes, and then hope that we win the competition to get back our money. Who developed this system? Again, politicians like to boast they “won” grant funding that has no cost. Bureaucrats thrive on the jobs and power that grants provide, both locally and at the state and federal levels. Someone has to collect the taxes, write the applications for grants, evaluate the applications, administer the grant money at the state or federal level, administer the grant money at the local level, write reports on how the grant money is spent, and then someone has to read the reports. This creates a lot of jobs for bureaucrats. It also costs a lot, which is a deadweight cost, that is, costs that provide no benefit.

(If politicians and bureaucrats in other states, cities, and counties are smarter than us, do we have a fair chance of getting our tax money back in the form of grants?)

Finally: There is evidence that intergovernmental grants accepted today result in higher taxes tomorrow. Worse, this is for spending that local governments might not choose if local government bore the entire cost. But after the grant ends and after a constituency is created, it’s difficult to stop the spending.

Following, from 2013, a presentation of research on grants and future taxation.

Federal grants seen to increase future local spending

“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” — Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman

Is this true? Do federal grants cause state and/or local tax increases in the future after the government grant ends? Economists Russell S. Sobel and George R. Crowley have examined the evidence, and they find the answer is yes.

The research paper is titled Do Intergovernmental Grants Create Ratchets in State and Local Taxes? Testing the Friedman-Sanford Hypothesis.

The difference between this research and most other is that Sobel and Crowley look at the impact of federal grants on state and local tax policy in future periods.

This is important because, in their words, “Federal grants often result in states creating new programs and hiring new employees, and when the federal funding for that specific purpose is discontinued, these new state programs must either be discontinued or financed through increases in state own source taxes.”

The authors caution: “Far from always being an unintended consequence, some federal grants are made with the intention that states will pick up funding the program in the future.”

The conclusion to their research paper states:

Our results clearly demonstrate that grant funding to state and local governments results in higher own source revenue and taxes in the future to support the programs initiated with the federal grant monies. Our results are consistent with Friedman’s quote regarding the permanence of temporary government programs started through grant funding, as well as South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s reasoning for trying to deny some federal stimulus monies for his state due to the future tax implications. Most importantly, our results suggest that the recent large increase in federal grants to state and local governments that has occurred as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will have significant future tax implications at the state and local level as these governments raise revenue to continue these newly funded programs into the future. Federal grants to state and local governments have risen from $461 billion in 2008 to $654 billion in 2010. Based on our estimates, future state taxes will rise by between 33 and 42 cents for every dollar in federal grants states received today, while local revenues will rise by between 23 and 46 cents for every dollar in federal (or state) grants received today. Using our estimates, this increase of $200 billion in federal grants will eventually result in roughly $80 billion in future state and local tax and own source revenue increases. This suggests the true cost of fiscal stimulus is underestimated when the costs of future state and local tax increases are overlooked.

So: Not only are we taxed to pay for the cost of funding federal and state grants, the units of government that receive grants are very likely to raise their own levels of taxation in response to the receipt of the grants. This is a cycle of ever-expanding government that needs to end, and right now.

An introduction to the paper is Do Intergovernmental Grants Create Ratchets in State and Local Taxes?.

From Pachyderm: Kansas District Court Judicial Candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas District Court Judicial Candidates. This was recorded July 13, 2018.

Kansas courts are divided into Judicial Districts. The 18th Judicial District has the same boundaries as Sedgwick County. Judges in the 18th Judicial District run for office and serve in Divisions. There are 28 Divisions. While these Divisions may appear to be geographical districts like those for county commissioner or state legislature, each Division covers the entire Judicial District. Therefore, all Sedgwick County voters may vote for judges in all divisions.

Candidates run as members of a party in the August primary, and winners advance to the November general election. Terms are four years. Of the Divisions that have elections this year, two have contested primaries, with all candidates filing as Republicans except for one Democrat in Division 7. In all other Divisions, only one candidate of any party has filed.

Here are the candidates in order of their opening statements.

Division 17 candidates:

  • Scott Anderson
  • Linda Kirby
  • David Lowdon
  • Richard Paugh

Division 7 candidates:

  • John Van Achen
  • Rodger Woods

For Hugh Nicks, a return to the backroom deal?

Remarks from a candidate for Sedgwick County Commission call for presenting a unified front to the public.

Speaking to the Wichita Pachyderm Club, Sedgwick County Commission candidate Hugh Nicks called for leadership to end what he called “divisive behavior:” “We can’t have — we can’t have the kind of divisive behavior that we have going on right now — we just — it’s just not — it’s just not acceptable.”

His opponent in the August Republican Party primary election is Richard Ranzau, who currently holds the office.

The “divisive behavior” that Nicks objects to takes several forms, but it’s clear he thinks that the Sedgwick County Commission should present a united front: The commission should have a plan that’s agreed to, and if commissioners don’t follow the plan, there should be consequences. At least that’s the moral of a story he told members of guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club.

That attitude is problematic. Especially so because the Sedgwick County Commission is different from a legislature. At the commission, there is no opportunity for interested parties — lobbyists and regular people — to testify before a committee as legislation is being developed. At the commission, there is no committee mark-up process in which the text of a bill is crafted and finalized. There is no committee vote that decides whether to recommend the bill to the entire legislative body.

So there really isn’t much debate or disagreement in public at the Sedgwick County Commission meetings. And when there is, it may be squelched. Last year a commissioner attempted to offer two amendments to a proposal. He was trying to generate a consensus. But the majority of commissioners wouldn’t have it, and the vote happened without considering the amendments. (See For Sedgwick County Commission, too much debate.)

It’s important that there be discussion in public, even if “divisive.” The prelude to the Kansas Open Meetings Act gives a reason why: “In recognition of the fact that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the policy of this state that meetings for the conduct of governmental affairs and the transaction of governmental business be open to the public.” 1

When things are not done in view of the public, we call them backroom deals, with all the well-deserved negative connotations. Here’s an example, from 2012: Sedgwick County staff and several commissioners worked out a deal to sell an unused radio tower for $280,000. Commissioners Ranzau and Peterjohn thought there should be an auction. There was an auction, and the county received net proceeds of $553,872. 2

There is already too much suspicion that backroom deals are common at the county and City of Wichita. The more important and “divisive” a matter is, the more discussion it deserves in public.

But that isn’t the attitude of candidate Nicks when he said, “It’d be like a business: I mean, if in our business when we had closed door meetings when, when we argue about how we move forward, in our, in our business, we didn’t go out in front of our employees afterwards and act the same way that we did back behind closed doors. It just doesn’t work. And if we went and acted that way in front of our customers, if we did, we wouldn’t have any customers.”

Business and government are different things. A business is accountable only to its owners and shareholders, and also to the public by acting lawfully. Other than this, a business can do what it wants. It may make decisions using any means its owners tolerate. 3

Government, however, is different. It should be accountable to the people. Sometimes — frequently — that requires “divisive” discussion and debate. And the more important the matter, the more discussion and debate — transparency — is needed.

It’s a lot easier on commissioners if the attitude is “go along to get along.” That attitude has led to a faltering Wichita economy as majorities of members of the Wichita City Council and Sedgwick County Commission have avoided debate and gone along with the advice of staff and economic development regimes. I think this is the strategy of Hugh Nicks, should he be elected to the commission.

It might be tempting to dismiss these remarks as having been made by an uninformed candidate. But Nicks says he has been running since October 2017 so that he can learn about the issues. 4

Following are excerpts of remarks of Hugh Nicks and Richard Ranzau at the Wichita Pachyderm Club, June 8, 2018.

Hugh Nicks:

In the area — in the area of leadership, uh, it always starts at the top. Yeah, it doesn’t matter what organization it is, it always starts at the top. I’ll give you just a couple of examples. Uh, when I first started out as a young guy, and I was coaching, I worked for a guy Lafayette Norwood. Maybe some of you know that name. Uh, he was the first black basketball coach — the city league’s first black coach in the city of Wichita, actually. And I worked for the man for two years and learned some hard lessons from him because he wanted to fire me a couple times.

Yeah, he wanted to fire me because one day I decided I’d run some drills that he would not have agreed upon and when we got back in the locker room and got all the kids checked out, he came and said, “I believe I’m gonna fire you.” I said, “I need that job.” It pays 6,200 dollars a year. I already said that. He said, “Well I saw what you were doing down at the other end of the court. It’s not what we agreed on. And uh, so, when we have a plan, we leave this, this office, then you’re gonna do what you’re supposed to do, and you’re not gonna counter anything that I say out on that floor because we’re a team and we’re gonna move forward.”

Uh, so that — that was one of my first lessons that I learned with regard to leadership. But I, I think it starts at the top, so here’s what I see at the county: Um, you know, we can’t have — we can’t have the kind of divisive behavior that we have going on right now — we just — it’s just not — it’s just not acceptable.

Now, it’s alright to disagree in my view. I mean, I’m probably one of the — one of the guys that disagree with and vehemently if I have a strong opinion. But it’s not done in public. You just — you just — you just can’t do that. So, if you want to have an argument with me and go back behind closed doors and have it all day long, that’s alright with me. But when we come out and we’re in front of a staff, then were gonna act differently, and we’re certainly gonna act differently in front of our constituents — in front of, in front of the, the people that we represent. It’d be like a business: I mean, if in our business when we had closed door meetings when, when we argue about how we move forward, in our, in our business, we didn’t go out in front of our employees afterwards and act the same way that we did back behind closed doors. It just doesn’t work. And if we went and acted that way in front of our customers, if we did, we wouldn’t have any customers.

So I’m a proponent, and trying to answer that question from back there in, in terms of leadership style, that we need a different leadership style in the county. Now Richard’s probably gonna take exception with that because he fights for what he believes in and I understand that. But it’s a matter of the way we go about it in my view, uh, and everything starts at the top. I mean, it starts at the top and works its way down, uh, that’s — that’s how I view that.


Notes

  1. Kansas Statutes Annotated 75-4317. Available at https://www.ksrevisor.org/statutes/chapters/ch75/075_043_0017.html.
  2. As a result of system upgrades, the county no longer needs a radio tower located near 77th Street North and Interstate 135. Pixius Communications, LLC made an offer to purchase the tower and the five acre tower site for $280,000. The county proceeded making arrangements for the sale, preparing a sales agreement contract between Sedgwick County and Pixius with a sales price of $280,000, along with several other legal documents necessary to support the sale. … But commissioners Richard Ranzau and Karl Peterjohn felt that the best way to sell the tower was through an auction. … The result of the auction? A Florida company offered $610,000. After a sales commission ($55,000) and half of closing costs ($1,128), the county will net $553,872. That’s almost twice the price the county manager and two commissioners were willing to sell the tower for. See Weeks, Bob. Sedgwick County tower sale was not in citizens’ best interest. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/sedgwick-county-government/sedgwick-county-tower-sale-was-not-in-citizens-best-interest/.
  3. It’s true that some government officials say we must run government like a business. They usually mean that until they are held to the standards of accountability the private sector faces. Then, things are different. Accountability is avoided. (The non-discussion of expenses of the Intrust Bank Arena is an example of evading business-type accountability by members of the Sedgwick County Commission. See Intrust Bank Arena loss for 2017 is $4,222,182.)
  4. “You may wonder why I’m announcing so early, since the Republican Primary for the County Commission seat isn’t until August 2018. The reason is simple. I like to do my homework. I want to learn about the way Sedgwick County governs, and the rationale behind the decisions that have been made. I want to learn about the issues that are most important to the people in the 4th District. I think serving as County Commissioner is too important to take an on-the-job-training approach, and I don’t want to be on a learning curve at the taxpayers’ expense.” Nicks4commissioner.com. News. October 19, 2017. Available at http://www.nicks4commissioner.com/news.html. .

WichitaLiberty.TV: Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman briefs Bob and Karl about the upcoming elections. View below, or click here to view at youTube. Episode 200, broadcast June 30, 2018.

Shownotes

  • Website for Sedgwick County Election Office. Includes how to register, sample ballots, options for voting, where to vote, when to vote, and other information.
  • Telephone number for the election office: 316-660-7100.

From Pachyderm: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates for districts 97 and 100. This was recorded June 29, 2018.

Candidates invited this week included:

Kansas House District 97
Nick J. Hoheisel and Michael E. Walker. Hoheisel did not attend.
District 97 is currently represented by Les Osterman, who is not running. It is far southwest Wichita plus surrounding areas. A map is here:
www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/district_maps/district_map_h_097.pdf

Kansas House District 100
James Francis Breitenbach and Dan Hawkins
District 100 is currently represented by Dan Hawkins. It covers west Wichita and part of Maize. A map is here:
www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/district_maps/district_map_h_100.pdf

Shownotes

Campaign websites for:

  • Nick J. Hoheisel: None found
  • Michael E. Walker: None found
  • James Francis Breitenbach: None found
  • Dan Hawkins: www.danhawkinskansas.com

From Pachyderm: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates for districts 87 and 93. This was recorded June 22, 2018.

Candidates invited this week included:

Kansas House District 87
Renee Erickson and Jeff Kennedy
District 87 is currently represented by Roger Elliott, who is not running. It is far east Wichita plus portions of Minneha township. A map is here:
www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/district_maps/district_map_h_087.pdf

Kansas House District 93
J.C. Moore and John Whitmer. Moore did not attend.
District 93 is currently represented by John Whitmer. It covers a small part of southwest Wichita and areas west and south. Cities: Cheney, Clearwater, Goddard (part), Haysville (part), Mulvane (part), Viola and Wichita (part). Townships: Afton, Attica (part), Erie, Illinois (part), Morton, Ninnescah, Ohio, Salem, Viola and Waco(part). A map is here:
www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/district_maps/district_map_h_093.pdf

Shownotes

Campaign websites for:

From Pachyderm: Kansas Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer, who is also Candidate for Kansas Governor. This is part of a series in which all major Republican candidates will speak. Recorded May 18, 2018.

Shownotes

WichitaLiberty.TV: Kansas Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Kansas Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer is a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for Kansas Governor. He joins Bob and Karl to make the case as to why he should continue to be our governor. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 197, broadcast May 19, 2018.

This is part of a series of appearances by gubernatorial candidates for 2018. We hope that all major candidates, of all parties as well as independents, will accept our invitation. The filing deadline is June 1, the primary election is August 7, and the general election is November 6.

Shownotes

From Pachyderm: Kris Kobach, Candidate for Kansas Governor

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and Candidate for Kansas Governor. This is part of a series in which all major Republican candidates will speak. Recorded May 11, 2018.

Shownotes

WichitaLiberty.TV: Kansas Gubernatorial Candidate Kris Kobach

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for Kansas Governor. He joins Bob and Karl to make the case as to why he should be our next governor. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 196, broadcast May 12, 2018.

This is part of a series of appearances by gubernatorial candidates for 2018. We hope that all major candidates, of all parties as well as independents, will accept our invitation. The filing deadline is June 1, the primary election is August 7, and the general election is November 6.

Shownotes

From Pachyderm: Ken Selzer, Candidate for Kansas Governor

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Ken Selzer, Kansas Insurance Commissioner and candidate for Kansas Governor. This is part of a series in which all major Republican candidates will speak. Recorded May 4, 2018.

Shownotes

From Pachyderm: Jim Barnett, Candidate for Kansas Governor

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Dr. Jim Barnett, candidate for Kansas Governor. This is part of a series in which all major Republican candidates will speak. Recorded April 20, 2018.

Shownotes

From Pachyderm: Can Wichita Elect a Governor?

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Dr. Russell Arben Fox, who is Professor of Political Science at Friends University. His topic was “Can Wichita Elect a Governor? Musings on the Kansas Political Landscape.”

This is an audio presentation. The accompanying slides are available here. Recorded on March 9, 2018 before a live audience at the Wichita Pachyderm Club.

WichitaLiberty.TV: Kansas Gubernatorial Candidate Dr. Jim Barnett

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Dr. Jim Barnett is a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for Kansas Governor. He joins Bob Weeks to make the case as to why he should be our next governor. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 185, broadcast February 24, 2018.

This is the first in a series of appearances by gubernatorial candidates for 2018. We hope that all major candidates, of all parties as well as independents, will accept our invitation. The filing deadline is June 1, the primary election is August 7, and the general election is November 6.

Shownotes

NOTA a needed voting reform

“None of the Above” voting lets voters cast a meaningful vote, and that can start changing things.

As a voter, would you like to express your displeasure with the choices on your ballot? Are you tired of voting for the lesser of two evils? Would you like to have a reason to go to the polls even though it seems the contests are already settled?

If so, then NOTA, or “None of the Above,” may appeal to you. In this system, candidates for offices are listed on your ballot. Then, an additional choice is added: “None of the Above.” (Sometimes the language is like “None of these candidates.”)

Politicians don’t like “None of the Above.” Appearing on WichitaLiberty.TV recently, John Fund told of how a politician worried that he might lose to an empty chair, meaning that “None of the Above” received more votes. Fund retorted that would be true only if the chair was better.

What would we do if “None of the Above” won the election, having received more votes than any other candidate?

Would the second-place candidate be declared the winner and take office? This is the case in Nevada. In this case, the “None of the Above” vote’s role is advisory, indicating widespread dissatisfaction with the candidates. But that’s a powerful message.

Or, would the election be declared to have no winner? Then, would a new election be held? Could the same candidates run again, or would they be eliminated? This would be disruptive and have the cost of holding a new election. But this is better than electing someone who can’t earn more votes than “None of the Above.”

Why is voter turnout so low? One common reason given is that some people don’t like any of the candidates, so they don’t vote. But if a person doesn’t vote, what message do they send? What statement do they make? Apathy? Disgust? Adding a NOTA choice to ballots lets these dissatisfied voters cast a vote, and a meaningful vote. There is no confusion. It says to the parties: “I don’t like the choices you’ve given me. Try again.”

Other people regularly vote. Perhaps a person votes because they really like one or more candidates. These people are able to make satisfying votes. Or if they really dislike a candidate, they can cast a satisfying vote against that person. But: What if the other candidate (or candidates) are no better, or have other problems? Must a person vote for the “lesser of two evils” in order to make a statement? What statement is that? In election results, a vote for candidate A from someone who really likes him is indistinguishable from a vote for candidate A solely because the other candidates are worse.

On the choices we had in the 2016 presidential election, Zach Ruby wrote in The Federalist:

Our government’s legitimacy is based on the consent of the governed. But our elections are structured so that the only way to withhold consent is not to vote. Low turnout may signal our disinterest or disapproval, but one of the unqualified candidates will still become president. We need a way to withhold consent through voting. That means we need None of the Above (NOTA) to be on the ballot.

With “None of the Above,” voters can take a positive step that says, “we do not consent to these choices.”

(Ruby noted that there were candidates besides Hillary Clinton and Donald trump on most ballots. But votes for third-party candidates often feel like “wasted” votes. Ranked preference voting can help in this regard.)

A vote of protest is important. Often I’ve refrained from voting for any listed candidates because I felt none were worthy to hold office. Sometimes I’ve felt that there should not be an office (Insurance Commissioner comes to mind), so I did not cast a vote for that office. It’s my own little way of protesting. In election lingo this is called an “undervote.” It has little meaning, because people undervote for many reasons. But voting for “None of the Above” gives voters a meaningful choice in instances like this.

Voting for the lesser of two evils is a choice we often face as voters. In the recent Wichita school board election, there was one contest between a thoroughly despicable incumbent and a challenger whose ideology is distinctly Marxist. Who to vote for in this instance? “None of the Above” would be a satisfying — and correct — choice. Voting for “None of the Above” sends a message that neither candidate is acceptable.

Voters who really need a “None of the Above” choice are those in Alabama. Do you want to send a liberal Democrat to the United States Senate? If your answer is no, then your only choice — if you want to vote — is to vote for a candidate facing credible charges of child molestation. That’s a choice we shouldn’t have to make. “None of the Above” voting lets voters cast a meaningful vote that says “I do not consent to these choices,” and that can start changing things.

We need NOTA, now

“None of the Above” voting has issues to resolve, but the current system has many problems.

As a voter, would you like to express your displeasure with the choices on your ballot? Are you tired of voting for the lesser of two evils? Would you like to have a reason to go to the polls even though it seems the contests are already settled?

If so, then NOTA, or “None of the Above,” may appeal to you. In this system, candidates for offices are listed on your ballot. Then, an additional choice is added: “None of the Above.”

Politicians don’t like “None of the Above.” Appearing on WichitaLiberty.TV recently, John Fund told of how a politician worried that he might lose to an empty chair, meaning that “None of the Above” received more votes. Fund retorted that would be true only if the chair was better.

But what would we do if “None of the Above” won the election, having received more votes than any other candidate?

Would the second-place candidate be declared the winner and take office? In this case, the “None of the Above” vote is reduced to an advisory, indicating widespread dissatisfaction with the candidates.

Or, would the election be declared to have no winner? Then, would a new election with different (or same) candidates ordered? This would be disruptive and have the cost of holding a new election. But this is better than electing someone who can’t garner more votes than “None of the Above.”

There is an organization promoting “None of the Above” as a choice for voters. As part of its argument, it states:

“None of the above” voters often decide to stay home instead of voting on election day. Others encourage this and suggest that it’s the way you show political disapproval in our country. This is both misguided and politically offensive. Non-voting happens for many reasons — political apathy, for example. But dissatisfaction is NOT apathy. It may in fact be the exact opposite. To suggest that dissatisfied voters should stay home and not vote hides the voice of protest. It is also tantamount to disenfranchisement.

Finally, adding a NOTA option to ballots can fill an important role in maintaining a peaceful political order. At the moment, dissatisfaction is forced out of the regular political process. It hides in the shadows, uncounted and unrecognized, masquerading as non-voting or as a vote for a “lesser of two evils” candidate. Or maybe it doesn’t hide at all. Instead it boils up in protest and the potential for violence. Providing a NOTA option can’t cure unrest, but it can provide official recognition for dissatisfaction. And when dissent has been made visible, the political establishment will be unable to deny its existence.

Voice of protest. That’s important. Often I’ve refrained from voting for any listed candidates because I felt none were worthy to hold office. It’s my own little way of protesting. In election lingo this is called an “undervote” and has little meaning, because people undervote for many reasons. But voting for “None of the above” gives voters a meaningful choice in instances like this.

Voting for the lesser of two evils is a choice we often face as voters. In the upcoming race for Wichita school board, there is one contest between a thoroughly despicable incumbent and a challenger whose ideology is distinctly Marxist. Who to vote for in this instance? “None of the above” would be a satisfying — and correct — choice. Voting for “None of the Above” sends a message that neither candidate is acceptable. Instead of conceding their votes to the listed candidates, voters have a meaningful choice.

On the same day Wichitans will select three city council members. There are two candidates in each district. In one district, only one candidate is actively campaigning. In the other two, there are large imbalances in fundraising. “None of the above” works in these cases, too.

WichitaLiberty.TV: John Fund, National Review Columnist

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: National Review columnist John Fund joins Bob Weeks and Karl Peterjohn to discuss elections and their security. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 168, broadcast October 8, 2017.

Shownotes

From Pachyderm: Wichita city council candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week: Wichita City Council Primary and General Election Candidates. This audio presentation was recorded June 30, 2017.

District 1 voters will vote in a primary election on August 1. Two candidates will advance to the general election on November 7. For districts 3 and 6, there will be no primary election, and the candidates will compete in the general election. Maps of city council districts are here. Or, to find who represents you in the city council and other offices, use Kansas Voter View, specifically this form.

The candidates are, in order of first speaking:

From District 1
District 3
District 6
  • Cindy Claycomb (Facebook: Cindy Claycomb)
  • Sybil Strum (Did not attend)