CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada's "none of the above" voting option will be on the November ballot following an emergency stay sought by the secretary of state's office and granted by a federal appeals court.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco blocked the injunction Tuesday and had strong words for U.S. District Judge Robert Jones, who last month declared the voting option unconstitutional and struck it from the ballot.
One appellate judge accused Jones, chief judge in Nevada, of deliberate foot-dragging by delaying hearings in the case and not issuing a written order in time for state lawyers to appeal before ballots must be printed.
"His dilatory tactics appear to serve no purpose other than to seek to prevent the state from taking an appeal of his decision before it must print the ballots," 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote.
He concluded, "Such arrogance and assumption of power by one individual is not acceptable in our judicial system."
Jennifer Lopez, spokeswoman for the Nevada attorney general's office, said Wednesday that the ruling means the choice that appears as "none of these candidates" in statewide races will be on the November 2012 ballot, though the court appeals will continue.
A lawsuit backed by the Republican National Committee sought to get rid of Nevada's unique "none" voting choice. The GOP fears "none" could siphon votes from the Republican candidates in what are expected to be tight presidential and U.S. Senate races.
Nevada is the only state in the nation that since 1976 has given voters the option to vote for "none" in races decided by voters statewide — president, U.S. Senate, state constitutional officers and state Supreme Court. It was enacted as a way to combat voter apathy after the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon — and give voters a way to register disdain for the political environment.
In a polarized political climate and an electorate soured on politics, opponents believe "none" gives voters an out from making a choice, and that such voters would be more inclined to vote for a challenger — such as Mitt Romney — if "none" was eliminated.