spoil your ballot?

I’d dearly like them to have a “None of the above” option on the ballot. Until they do the option of spoiling your ballot isn’t quite attractive enough to go for. Sure, it distinguishes you from people who just can’t be bothered to turn up, I’m just worried that it doesn’t distinguish you from people who are unable to vote correctly.

But something our prospective member of parliament for Sheffield Hallam told me this weekend puts a little more weight on the option: if you spoil your ballot then all the candidates get shown it, and have to agree on who, if anyone, it is a vote for. So if it is spoilt by an inaccurately placed cross then they can reach a consensus on who the vote is really for. And if you put a cross next to the lib-dem candidate and scrawl “Would Have Voted Labour But For The War” next to it then presumably they have to be shown it and agree that it is – or isn’t – a valid vote for the lib dem.

So although there isn’t any way for people hearing the results to distinguish your spoilt vote from someone who just can’t cross a box, there is a chance that the politicians can – and arguably they are the people who it is most important to communicate with.

I’d love to know if this is true, although even if it is i’m not going to take the chance and risk my vote not being counted. But at least, if you are going to spoil your vote anyway you can consider what to write, knowing who might get to see it.

(ps suggestions on the best three words with which to spoil your ballot also welcome)

3 replies on “spoil your ballot?”

personally, i have managed to heighten my interest in the election by gambling on turnout. however, since I stand to win if it falls below last time, i’m not sure of my incentive to vote. difficult.

If there is a suffiencient level of spoilt ballot papers myself, and several others i have encountered during this campaign, will attempt to use the Freedom of Information act to get the spoilt ballots counted for how many were spoilt in protetst at the lack of choice.

so may it’s worth spoling you ballot?

The Political Genius Of Richard Prior in Brewster’s Millions

I have long though that some mechanism needs to exist to effectively register ones discontent with the lack of quality choices at election time. Ever since I saw Brewsters’ Millions with Richard Prior I thought the None of the Above option is a great idea. It has some flaws though. I have a few solutions to these problems. The first problem is that In making the argument that a certain level of spoilt ballots indicates distaste or rejection of the candidats who stood or teh existing political parties there is always the fair rebuttle that one does not know which ballots were spoilt and which were errors. It could be idiocy, errors, etc. Of course using statistics to show general rates or error and then comparing those to the spoilt ballot numbers in each district to first see if there is likely a significant number of intentional spoilt ballots has rigor but it is always open to refutation. Even if we know that it is true that many people spoilt their ballots this means little for several reasons; a) it is ignored or b) just not considered a meaningful statement du to the preavalent thinking. To solve these problmes the mechanisms to indicate displeasure with choice need to be institutionalized and effective. First there needs to be a place on the ballot where the ‘none of the above’ choice is registered and then counted. This then needs to be published so that anyone who felt they had no chance sees it and thus may be compeled to run. Second these mechanisms need to mean something. If we can make it law that if there are either A) not enough votes in a district i.e. a percentage of the eligible population of at least say 55% then there must be a by-election, or B) if the ‘none of the above’ option takes the top spot in the district there must be a by-election that allows others to run must take place. These by-elections will run until there is a ‘real’ and legitimate winner. We need to stop settleing for just an acceptable system.

Unfortunately such a system is not soon likely, as people have little creativity or flexability when it comes to their notions of politics and governance. However the next best solution is to use forums as you have set up here to indicate lack of choice but they need to be bolstered with effective reporting of the numbers who spoilt ballots. A nation wide and riding specific registry whereby each person can register that they have spoilt their ballot (kind of a protest petition), along with political opinion polling (real scientific research) about peoples feelings about choice level. This distaste needs to be registered. A simple on-line form could work or better yet, have people outside the polling stations so people can record if they spoilt their ballot. Ideally this would not be anonamous but it probably will have to be to guarantee effective participation.

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