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OBITUARIES / PASSINGS / Luther Devine Knox

TIMES STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

Luther Devine “L.D.” Knox, 80, a farmer and perennial candidate who tried to get “None of the Above” on Louisiana’s ballot by legally adding it to his name, died Wednesday at a nursing home in Winnsboro, La. He had Alzheimer’s disease.

Knox ran unsuccessfully in many state and local elections, often abbreviating the name he took in 1979 as “NOTA.” He began campaigning in the 1960s. He lost his first race against state Rep. Lance Womack by 18 votes, 3,526 to 3,544. It was his closest finish.

It was during the 1979 race for governor that Knox made “None of the Above” an additional middle name.

As one of nine candidates in the open primary, he contended that the phrase should show up as his nickname. Louisiana’s secretary of state said no. By the time he had gone to court and legally changed his name, it was too late to change the ballot, a state judge ruled.

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That race ended with David Treen becoming Louisiana’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Knox finished seventh in the primary.

His aim -- allowing voters to call for a new election with new candidates by voting for “none of the above” -- remained his main plank in subsequent elections, though he later ran as L.D. “NOTA” Knox.

“The people of this country have never had a free election,” he said in 1991. “We don’t have a right to reject candidates. We have to take the lesser of the evils.”

Knox, who was born March 9, 1929, in Jigger, La., ran as a Democrat. Winnsboro Mayor Jack Hammons said Knox’s politics tended toward the liberal, but he didn’t believe in party politics. “He thought people had a right to vote how they chose and didn’t necessarily need to follow a party line.”

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