Abernathy wrote:Yes it does. The number of spoilt papers is part of every election result declaration, and all are reported in news media.
Yes, but again as just a number all lumped together, which is meaningless and useless and hence all to easily ignored. It does not indicate what the intent of the voter was. The public do not get the breakdown that the candidates get. Take this page, for example:
http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/f ... rk-central
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There's more information on the Monster Raving Loony Party's performance than on spoilt ballots (which here are referred to as rejected ballots, again immediately classing them as something they may not be). And to ward off the response of "but it was only 66 votes anyway", I'd argue (a) that's irrelevant because every vote counts and deserves to be counted and (b) it's entirely possible that it's because
it's currently such a useless indicator of anything that in many cases hardly anyone makes use of it.
But what would reporting spoilt papers with an explicit NOTA message separately actually achieve? The proportion of the electorate not voting seems to me to provide a good enough, if not actually better, measure of this already and the problem of how to increase turnout and achieve greater electoral engagement is a problem that has actually been engaging political types for decades, believe it or not. There is simply no point.
The only reason to say there's no point is if you believe that everyone who doesn't vote still wouldn't vote if they had a specific option to say "None of you are good enough". At present, that option does not exist, and you have no idea of how many people would
vote if they thought that they could express their dissatisfaction with the current system and candidates in a clear, meaningful way. And if voter apathy has been a problem for decades as well, then for flip's sake why the hell not try something new that would be simple to do, increase interest and potentially yield useful information? It seems the main parties are willing to try anything *except* an option that will allow people to tell all of them off at the same time.
Sorry, but by definition an explcit NOTA message is a spoilt paper (which term by the way I don't view as being pejorative). The turnout in any given election, or more particularly the proportion not bothering to turn out, already provides a more than adequate measure of those who do not consider voting for any candidate on the ballot paper to be worth their (minimal) effort, and is both recorded and widely publicised. I see no point at all in categorising separately those who at best are slightly less lazy than their fellow abstainers.
Well then the definition needs to change - it's only spoilt now because there is no option, which is the whole point. And you may not view it as pejorative, but I do and I know others who do as well. If I want to vote and want to make it clear that I think none of the candidates are up to scratch I do not want it implied that I may have just cocked up, not do I want candidates trying to claim my vote as theirs, not do I want my vote to be classed as "spoiled" when I have correctly completed the form and the process. I want it recorded that I exercised my democratic right to vote in a correct manner and that I reject all the options available because they were not good enough, and I want those numbers recorded specifically and publicised. I want it to be unavoidable for candidates and parties to ignore because everyone knows and everyone has access to the same information. And all the moreso because the other argument all the parties wheel out is that if you don't vote you don't have a voice. In a nutshell, they won't change the system to give people an option to say no-one is good enough and they class anyone who doesn't vote as not being bothered. They insist that everyone play by their rules, then complain when people won't play. It's one of the reasons people are disenfranchised with politics and politicians, it comes up time and again, and yet no party has the guts to change it because at the end of the day they'd still rather have the chance of a vote going to them or have someone not vote for anyone and thus avoid a vote going to a rival than have a vote recorded as saying "you *all* suck".
Well some of them really aren't as bad as the others (Nick Griffin anyone?). But no, he was rightly criticising Brand for offering no solution to the perceived problem whatsoever other than shrugging the shoulders and not voting. If you do not consider that any of the candidates that choose to put themselves forward for election are worthy of your vote, then arguably it is open to you to change that, either by putting yourself forward for election, or by working to try to ensure that you influence the decisions of those responsible either for deciding to stand for election, or for selecting the candidates that do stand.
I agree some of them aren't - that's plainly obvious. But some are, and some people do not sit comfortably with any party and do not want to be tribal. Some people may not wish to vote Tory, but may have inept/limp/unpalatable options otherwise. Some people simply don't want to be involved in politics on the whole and shouldn't have to be - everyone needs to go to the dentist but we don't all have to actively engage in dentistry to expect competence, nor train as dentists and join the BDA if our local dentist isn't up to scratch - but that doesn't mean they should have to happily vote for anyone who pitches up for the party they broadly support with no proper option to say otherwise. Not everyone can put themselves up for election or wants to join a party. But they're still part of the country, still contribute and still therefore have a right to say that no, they don't want to choose anyone who has been put forward without that choice being essentially lost.
It's interesting that whenever I've raised this idea before or heard it discussed it's always been shouted down by people who are already heavily involved with/in a party, but always supported by those who aren't in a party (even if they tend to be clearly left/right wing), and it's always dismissed for the same reason of it not being worth it (even though parties are always going on about wanting to increase engagement), or the option already exists (except, it doesn't of course). And the feedback to Brand has been broadly more of the same. If politicians genuinely want more people to vote and get them invested in politics, they'll have to take the risk that it might not go their way but give them more choice to express their opinion. It might lead to more engagement, more interesting choices of candidate, maybe even more parties and independents. The status quo is leading to ever-dwindling turnout and engagement, dwindling party membership and increasing apathy, because when people see their choice of candidates is another row of identikit suits and skirts with no option to say "someone else, please" it immediately says to them it's the same again and nothing will change. So really, what's the worst that could happen by trying it???
EDIT: and also, Abers, how dare you class people who deliberately spoil their ballot as lazy abstainers. How DARE you. It is arrogance of the highest order to consider anyone not wishing to vote for an established party but wishing to cast a vote as somehow not being bothered. They are, arguably, making considerably more effort than someone who trots up and votes obediently for the same party, time and again. They are engaging with the democratic process and expressing their opinion that no one has measured up and is deserving of their vote even though they know that it will be ignored. They are trying to work within the system in precisely the way you think they should rather than being open to change the system, and this is the result - they're classed as lazy. It's exactly this sort of attitude that has led to the mass voter apathy we see today, and quite frankly makes a mockery of your claim that you don't see "spoilt ballot" as a pejorative term.