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Spoil your ballot! - Ed's journal
Spoil your ballot!
Every year or so, the government issues us all with a free piece of paper and a pencil to scribble on it, and offers to have a look through the whole lot. In the face of such largess, it seems almost rude not to participate. I would therefore like everyone to take the time to do a pretty doodle, scribble or scrawl. If you can manage it, submit a photo of it, and I'll collate them.

I'm referring to ballot papers, and electoral turnout - this PCC election in particular seems to have been something of a farce - reports of very quiet polling stations, widespread low turnouts.

But this isn't really news - voter turnout has been pretty poor for many years, and no one really pays much heed. Go on - what proportion of your electorate turned out for the last council election? Mine was 31%. Near 7 out of 10 people didn't spent 10m putting a mark on a piece of paper.

I've heard a variety of excuses - from 'I couldn't be bothered' to 'it makes no difference anyway'.

And I can _sort_ of sympathise. I mean, given the way we do the elections - if there are multiple candidates a vote for a minority group can end up a wasted vote. Whilst it _might_ get their deposit back, realistically the choices in the general election are either for or against the 'lead' candidate.
There's very few three way marginals out there, and realistically no minority party is going to win, ever. Because of 'first past the post' there's very few candidates outside the 'big three' who ever win a seat. Of the 650 seats, just 29 were in that category.
Likewise... well, take a look if you will - the demographics of the UK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_United_Kingdom
Now compare that against the demographics of the House of Commons.

But the problem with low turnout - of not casting _your_ vote - is that then it's hard to tell the difference between:
- those that can't be bothered.
- those that are satisfied that any of candidates would be acceptable.
- those that don't want to endorse anyone.
- those that object to the election in some way.

A candidate who wins, with 70% of the electorate not casting a vote _can_ call that a mandate.

So I'd like you to consider very hard next election - if none of the candidates appeals to you, then take the time to go and spoil your ballot.
The outcome is much the same - your vote will be excluded from the proceedings, and the same candidate won. However, it's much harder for them to claim the tacit support of the electorate when people _did_ turn out, and took the time to _not_ vote for them.

I would really like to see an election where the winning candidate was 'outvoted' by spoiled ballots. A clear message _that_ would be.

But realistically - nothing changes if you stay at home. You're deemed to be tacitly supporting whoever one. Even if that wasn't your intent - you get lumped in with all the people who couldn't be bothered.

So please - take the time to spoil your ballot. Make your protest by _actually_ making a protest.

(Note: I mean this in lieu of not voting at all. If you have a candidate or party you wish to support, then knock yourself out. If you don't, I'm sure a minority/independent might be appreciative of getting a bit closer to getting their deposit back.
Whatever you do though - resist the temptation to 'opt out' by staying home. Opt out by drawing a pretty picture on that free piece of paper).
5 comments or Leave a comment
forest_rose From: forest_rose Date: November 15th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really wanted to vote today, but was utterly disorganised and failed to sort out my electoral roll standing in time. It turns out that moving house to a different county on the actual day of the election is not conducive to voting.
xarrion From: xarrion Date: November 16th, 2012 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)
"You're deemed to be tacitly supporting whoever one."

One? Really Ed? One?
mrph From: mrph Date: November 16th, 2012 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Yep. I was torn between spoiling my PCC ballot and voting for the least worst (independent) option. </p>

I went for the latter and still feel slightly guilty about it. Still, will be very interesting to see the turnout and results today...

jorune From: jorune Date: November 16th, 2012 10:54 am (UTC) (Link)
According to @CllrKentaylor on twitter

"PCC. Election. Coventry. 6% turnout + postal =. 11% as a whole. Two polling stations there appears to have been no votes cast "

I believe in voting and not spoiling ballot papers. But then I've never been faced with a choice that is wholly unacceptable.
elrohana From: elrohana Date: November 17th, 2012 10:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I did the same as mrph - I voted for the Independent with Labour as my second choice, because the Independent is an ex-copper and the Labour guy has actually been on the police committee thingy for the last 5 years so has experience of the job. But it was a very tough decision NOT to spoil. I am beyond disillusioned with politics in this country.
5 comments or Leave a comment