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Saturday: January 14, 2012

What Can a Virginian Do?

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:36 PM GMT-0500

Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom and others have blogged about the court decision affirming that the Virginia Republican primary this year will list only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the ballot. Goldstein comments: “Feeling disenfranchised, those of you in VA who wanted to cast your vote for some other candidate? Sorry, them’s the (procedural) breaks.” Commenter geoffb adds that one obvious countermove is foreclosed: “Virginia primaries do not allow write-in votes. Write-in and it’s a spoiled ballot.”

Should Virginians angry about this lack of choice (I am one of them) go to the polls and spoil our ballots? I don’t know whether spoiled-ballot totals are normally reported in election results, but surely they would be if they were a quarter or a third or half of all ballots, and that would make an unambiguous statement of discontent with the choices offered. (Not that the choices are all that much better in other states, but that’s another story.)

Of course, a statewide campaign of ballot-spoiling sounds like the kind of thing you’d see in a dictatorship where no other option is available. I can’t find the passage, but I believe it was the Younger Pliny who recorded an incident in which someone in the Senate under the brutal emperor Domitian defaced his voting-slip with insults and obscenities before putting it in the voting box. As I recall, Pliny was shocked, or professed to be shocked, that any senator would do that.

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