POLITICS: Campaigns

'None of the above' --- the Jeanne Shaheen Protection Act of 2014

Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,New Hampshire,2014 Elections,Campaigns,Jeanne Shaheen,Scott Brown

Call it the Jeanne Shaheen Protection Act of 2014: New Hampshire Democrats have introduced a bill into the state legislature that would help incumbents by allowing voters to cast a ballot for "none of the above."

The Democratic lawmakers promoting the bill frame it as a populist measure. “Real choice means people have to be able to withhold their consent,” state Rep. Charles Weed, who sponsored the "None of the above" bill, told the local CBS outlet.

Another Democratic proponent suggested politicians would kill the bill out of fear that "none of the above" would get the most votes.

“It’s hard enough to lose to an opponent. It’s doubly hard to lose to nobody,” state Rep. Douglas Ley said. “We have tender egos. It’s one of the reasons why I think it’s been opposed, but no one will ever say that.”

Take the state legislators at their word, but incumbents should love this bill, perhaps no one more than Sen. Shaheen, D-N.H., the embattled senator who might have to face Scott Brown in 2014. A voter who casts a ballot for "none of the above" is a voter who dislikes the incumbent. Remember when Vice President Joe Biden said to judge President Obama against the alternative, not the Almighty? Well, "none of the above" would allow an incumbent to avoid even being judged against the alternative.

Brown, who isn't even a candidate yet, was tied with Shaheen in a Jan. 21-23 poll of 1,052 likely voters by the bipartisan firm Purple Strategies.

When a voter who doesn't like the incumbent doesn't vote against the challenger (let's be real, these are two-party races) either by staying home or voting "none of the above," that's a boon for the incumbent. And that's just what this bill would do for Shaheen.

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