Over the past three decades, product options in the average supermarket have quintupled. You can find 11 flavors of Cheerios, 25 types of Head & Shoulders shampoo, and at least 53 varieties of Campbell’s condensed soup.
A psychology professor who studies this claims all these choices can freeze shoppers in their tracks, and cause dissatisfaction with the choices they do make “because they think an unchosen item might have been better.”
All of which leads us to New Hampshire, where the legislature is considering a bill to add a “none of the above” option to the ballot. The only state that has it is Nevada, where “none of the above” has been known to draw tens of thousands of votes.
Proponents say it’s a valid form of protest against the status quo. Critics call it useless, because the real-live candidate with the most votes still wins, and insulting to the real people on the ballot.
While I’m all for having as many choices as possible when it comes to soup or candidates, I have to wonder if “none of the above” is more cop-out than choice.
It lets apathetic or uninformed voters off the hook by giving them a cheap way to vent. Is it better to just razz an incumbent you don’t like, or give him a real scare by voting for his opponent, however imperfect they may be?
Then you can do the same for the new guy, if he fails to deliver.
Elections aren’t like choosing a soup.
If we’re really serious citizens, we’ve got to be ready to do more than add water and stir.
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Jon Keller is Political Analyst for WBZ-TV News, and his “Keller At Large” reports on a wide range of topics are regularly featured during WBZ-TV News at 5PM and 6PM. Keller’s commentaries are also se...