This gets my vote


Rightly or wrongly, political cynicism prevents many people today from getting involved in the democratic process. The whole procedure has an air of hopeless inevitability about it, like applying for Olympic tickets — vote as many times as you like but the corporate sponsors always get in.

This has resulted in a huge proportion of the population — more than half — abstaining from the process and producing a result which is divisive and unsatisfactory. Inevitably, a death spiral is produced and fewer and fewer people feel their vote has any relevance at all and even if they did vote, there is very little to choose between the cloned party leaders.

Here is my solution:
At the bottom of every ballot paper is another box which the voter can put a cross in: the ‘no confidence’ box. By casting their vote in this way, the voter is making a positive statement about their disenfranchisement from the political process. It also sends an unequivocal signal to the political parties that they have lost touch with the masses. So instead of the political leaders simply shrugging their shoulders at the poor turnout for the vote and continuing with business as usual, they would have to face their humiliation if those fifty odd percent of the population who currently don’t vote, stated publicly that they had no confidence in the current crop of privileged professional politicians… Having this extra dimension to the voting system would also assuage the guilt of the many people who feel voting is a waste of time but feel duty bound to do it because of all the human sacrifices in securing their right to vote.

Of course, the fun starts when over fifty percent of the population choose to vote, ‘no confidence’ in any election. What happens then? Perhaps a new election could be run with entirely different candidates?

5 Responses to “This gets my vote”

  1. P says:

    I think that only works when voting is compulsory, it hasn’t really caught on in the places in the world where it is an option. Spoiled ballots are already counted and announced. Student unions including the NUS who use AV or STV sometimes have an option for RON – re-open nominations. RON very rarely gets a significant number of votes unless the turnout is sub-20%. People who want to vote none of the above generally either don’t turn out or spoil their ballots. Under 1% of votes were spoiled in the 2010 UK General Election.

  2. John Atkinson says:

    Excellent piece. There’s a Facebook group called ‘None of the above’ (I think) who began calling for that box before the last election and got quite a number to join. As p said, though, I think you’d only get a large number were voting to be made compulsory.

  3. Ivor Tymchak says:

    Thanks for the comments people and I accept the realities of what goes on today but you miss one crucial requirement of the suggestion, namely that a consequence has to result from such a vote. Currently, the number of spoilt papers is just a statistic, not a proactive movement for change and I’m guessing that spoilt papers are like letters to the editor: for every letter received, the newspaper knows there are hundreds more who think the same as that author but can’t be bothered to write.

    The RON option is not really punitive enough to motivate people to vote that way, any no confidence vote has to hurt, otherwise it is simply delaying the inevitable. And of course, it is for this very reason that it will never be utilised: people might actually use the power given to them.

  4. P says:

    Ivor, in the US states such as Nevada where none of the above is an option, it is rarely exercised by the electorate and does not increase turnout at all. Analysis shows that none of the above has a low, loyal and mostly unchanging number of voters – basically the people who would otherwise spoil their ballot every time and never vote for a candidate but believe in turning out to vote.

    Again I state, it would only work where voting is compulsory. In Australia, where voting is compulsory, the spoiled ballot rate is always somewhere between 5-6%, again rarely changing significantly. I suspect if they had a none of the above option, that 5-6% would convert to that, with relatively few people who normally do vote for a candidate exercising that option apart from in rare circumstances.

  5. Ivor Tymchak says:

    Penny, what are the consequences of people voting ‘none of the above’?

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