Declining a ballot and other means of protest

I have seen some discussion on what one should do if one does not like any of the choices they are presented with. Here are some mechanisms through which a voter can choose ‘none of the above’ in the absence of an actual ‘none of the above’ option.

1) Stay home. This is the easiest option. While there is no way to determine how many voters stayed home out of apathy and how many made a conscious decision to stay home, this still accomplishes the objective of voting for ‘none of the above’.

2) Spoil your ballot. This involves receiving your ballot and marking it in any way other than a clearly marked choice for a single candidate. All invalid ballots are tallied up and recorded in their own category. This also accomplishes the objective of choosing ‘none of the above’, though there is no way to determine if the ballot was spoiled intentionally or if the voter simply did not understand the instructions clearly.

3) Decline your ballot. This involves going to the polling station and telling the clerk you wish to decline your ballot. When the results are tallied up, your ‘vote’ will be counted in the ‘declined’ category, not the ‘invalid’ category. These votes are, unambiguously, a rejection of all options presented to the voter.

I am not encouraging voters to do any of these actions, but I think citizens deserve to know they do have alternatives when none of the conventional options are tolerable to them.

I pass no judgement on voters, whether they vote for a party, vote for a candidate, vote for a policy, vote against a policy, are single-issue voters, are die-hard partisans, vote strategically, vote ‘none of the above’, or even if they decide not to vote at all.


About jbsantos
Polling, politics, PR and outdoor pursuits.

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