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)