I am a little surprised this time around at the number of people I hear asking for a ‘None of the Above’ option in this year’s provincial election. What worries me about this is most of the people I hear talking this way tell me they are going to ‘spoil’ their ballots as a way of protesting the deplorable choices we’ve been given. Let me say this about spoiling your ballot…
DON’T DO IT!!!!! There’s a better way.
Here’s the deal. ‘Spoiled’ in election parlance is a term that refers to a ballot that has been improperly filled out. The category was created as a response to people who, quite frankly, are incapable of following simple instructions. They use a mark other than an ‘x’, check off two names instead of one, that sort of thing. These ballots are simply discarded by the returns counting pencil-pushers. They are not counted, they are not reported, they are not taken notice of – they are simply destroyed.
This is why I say, “Don’t spoil your ballot! It accomplishes nothing!”
There is an option however, you can formally DECLINE your ballot. Here’s how it works…
Go to the polls with your ID in hand. Register with the returning officer and watch as they stroke off your name. Take the ballot that they hand to you. Then.. instead of going behind the cardboard screen, hand your ballot back to the official and say something like, “I want to formally decline my ballot.” They will ask if you are sure and after you affirm that it is what you want to do, they will then set your ballot aside and record the fact that it was declined!
The number of declined ballots is seldom report by the media, but they are counted, tallied, and become part of the official election records. The government and the political parties are made aware of the number of declined ballots. In the absence of a formal ‘None of the Above” option actually printed on the ballot this is a far better way to send a message than spoiling your ballot. At least this way it will be counted instead of just being ignored.
Now… I’m not saying that this is what you should do in Thursday’s election. Who you do or do not vote for is entirely up to you. Frankly, I’m still thinking it over. But, if you are going to try to send a message about how frustrated you are, at least do it in a way that will be noticed and become part of the official record.
Don’t spoil your ballot… Decline it!
And don’t do nothing… get out and vote!!