Friday, 5 June 2009

So Did You Vote ?

I voted last night. After hearing all the predictions of low turn out I was surprised that the ballot box (one of 3 at my station) was so full that a ruler was needed to poke the slips right through the slot. Yet the official turnout was still only 38.29% against a previous turnout of over 64%.

I really think the time has come that voting became compulsory. What message is being sent by the 60%+ in my neighbourhood that didn't vote. Apathy? Lack of understanding? Feeling no-one represents their views? Simply too busy? Big Brother was starting? No doubt the Labour Party who still seem to be living in Cloud Cuckoo Land will claim it is simply a temporary protest and that their voters will be back when it matters for a General Election. Maybe they'd be right, I doubt it, but whatever our views we can only speculate.

We can read opinion polls untill we are blue in both the face and , hopefully, the government. But the only poll that counts is the one at the ballot box. And the only way that it can be assured that a country is being run according to the wishes of the majority of its populus - and before anyone says it, I know our first past the post system doesn't necessarily mean the majority support the winners - is to ensure that they all vote. Everybody would of course have the right to vote for "none of the above" and/or spoil their paper. Now if 60%+ of the population actually did that, then that would be sending a very strong message to all the parties that they are not listening to the man in the street.

I know that one of the many stay-aways was my 19 year old step daughter who doesn't vote because, as she puts it, "What's it got to do with me". I fear that politicians of all parties seem so alien to vast sections of society that we could have whole generations growing up with the same attitude. In years to come we could end up with our government being elected by as few as 5% or so of the population.

How it could be assured that everybody votes is a practical issue that I have no answer to at the moment but I am sure it is a problem that could be overcome if the will was really there amongst all parties.


  1. Yes mate. I voted.

    More accurately, I turned out and spoiled my ballot paper.

    Why? Because I couldn't cast a positive vote for any of the candidates from the four parties in the County Council elections.

    I think the fact that people turn out and cast their vote for the "lesser of the evils", doesn nothing to help put the system right. So I refused to do that this time.

    I hope that more people will see spoiling their ballot paper as an acceptable alternative to not turning out.

    If the are more spoilt papers than the winning candidate has votes, they have no legitimacy...

  2. Actually you raise a good point there. If "None of the above" DID receive more votes than the individual with most votes, would that individual still be elected, or would that election have to return no winning candidate?

  3. If we do see electoral reform as well as Parliamentary and Constitutional reform, the "None of the Above" idea is one that I hope would be seriously considered.

    Personally I don't see how a candidate could possibly be returned if "None of the Above" won the ballot. They'd have to re-run the ballot with different candidates...

    Which probaly explains why they haven't done it yet. One candidate from the main parties still gets a seat, despite all the stay-at-homes and the spoilt ballots...

  4. Hi mate,
    We might not see eye to eye on political persuasion but on this I am in total agreement.

    When I'm prime minister of the world, i will make voting compulsory. There really is no excuse not to vote as you can spoil your paper. A scribble of a 2 finger salute would get the message across to the candidates who have to examine spoilt papers.

  5. A scribble of a 2 finger salute would get the message across to the candidates who have to examine spoilt papers.

    Is that true? Why is this not publicised more? I'm sure 90%+ turn-outs would be achieved easily if people were aware that the powers that be had to read all the reasons why people aren't voting for them - especially as those little messages would, of course, be anonymous .

  6. It hadn't occurred to me either. I'd just assumed that spoilt ballots were counted, the serial numbers on the ballot papers were matched against the records that the Polling Clerks take and your card is duly marked by Special Branch...

    That's why I wrote something polite, to the effect that "I was sorry but I couldn't give any of the candidates a positive vote."

    Although I will concede that the two-fingers sketch is more fun, I think I'd still try to write something polite, as the reason why the ballot is spoilt is just as significant as the fact that it is spoilt...

  7. Tis true, I've had to do a few election counts in my time. The candidates all have to get together with the returning officer to agree that spoilt papers are actually spoilt before the offical result can be announced.

  8. Thanks for the insight Rach.

    Feel bettter about doing it, now that I know spoilt ballots are read...


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