Tuesday, June 27, 2006


None of the Above

I love numbers. Like the spinmeisters, numbers can say pretty much whatever I want them to say, but my main love is in the beauty that numbers can have by simply letting them express themselves without interference.

Take the "none of the above" concept. In the US, we vote for candidates for office, and if we don't vote, we don't get counted in the election numbers. If you will suspend your disbelief for just a few moments, I will ask you to make an assumption with me: that all those who did not vote in the 2000 Presidential election were actually casting their votes for "none of the above", or Nota. Please also note that I am ignoring any of the candidates besides Bush and Gore. Their numbers do not greatly affect the illustration I'm about to present.

I'd say I'm pretty safe in my assumption. Think about the ramifications, and I believe you will feel safe also. Then, if you start to feel scared, you can join me in wondering about paranoia and conspiracies.

Every state has an estimated number of eligible voters, the vast bulk (but not all) of whom register to vote. Thus, the numbers I'm about to describe cannot be called exact, but as an illustration, if most of them are close enough, my point is safely made.

Calculating the total vote for Nota is not difficult. Setting up a chart showing the total votes for Bush, Gore and Nota is quite easy with modern spreadsheet programs. What is shocking is the result: except in exactly four states, Arkansas and Wyoming for Bush, Maine and Minnesota for Gore, Nota is the clear winner in every state election count.

Let's take a small sampling of some of the results in the states.

Rhode Island: Bush 130,555; Gore 249,508; Nota 345,089
Nebraska: Bush 433,862; Gore 231,780; Nota 538,961
Maryland: Bush 813,827; Gore 1,144,088; Nota 1,906,164
Missouri: Bush 1,189,524; Gore 1,111,138; Nota 1,745,543

There were states where the margin was smaller, and Nota "won" by smaller numbers than in the sampled states. There were states where the margin was larger. But if you look at election numbers as the pulse of the nation, as the ultimate referendum, the voice of the people, the numbers speak for themselves.

On second thought, I'll add the two largest states (in terms of number of voters) to my sample.

Texas: Bush 3,799,639; Gore 2,433,746; Nota 8,443,130
California: Bush 4,567,429; Gore 5,861,203; Nota 13,925,526

I think it's shameful that in our two largest states Nota got more votes than both of the major candidates combined.

At the very least, any winning candidate better think long and hard before claiming that he or she has a mandate from the people. Nota will haunt them every time.

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