to consider spoiling the ballot?

(78 Posts)

I'm what the media calls a floating voter - I don't vote for the same political party time after time, I vote on the issues (not that it makes any difference where I currently live, as vast numbers of people seem to vote for the same party simply because they always have!).

But just lately I've been thinking - if an election was called tomorrow I really don't know who I would vote for. As things stand I don't think there is a single party that I would want in power. I have voted in every election I am eligible to and always been very scathing about those who don't bother - but I really don't know what I will do at the next general election. As far as I can see the only option that reflects my true opinion is to spoil the ballot but then my vote is wasted...

Very confused.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 08:13:24

I understand what you're saying- but that is the way extremists get elected. Vote for the least worst- but vote.

catgirl1976 Sat 06-Oct-12 08:13:58


I wouldn't know who to vote for either. I used to vote Lib Dem but.........

At least spoiling the ballot is not "not voting" which I feel to guilty about to do.

Stand yourself as and independant? smile

Sirzy Sat 06-Oct-12 08:15:44

I think a lot of people will do just that next time around.

Lib dem voters in particular will probably think twice about what voting for them means.

glamourousgranny42 Sat 06-Oct-12 08:17:36

You need to think about it at a local level. Choose someone who you think will represent you best. Of course they all buy into a particular ideology generally but often when you you get down to local issues you want someone who won't always toe the party line. Do some research and 5efinitely vote

WiseKneeHair Sat 06-Oct-12 08:18:43

It's difficult and I feel as if I am in the same position.
However, I agree with Seeker that this is how extremists get in.
I think that the Lib Dems are really going to suffer next time and I don't think Labour have enough support to get in, so the result could well be an overall majority for the Conservatives.
Out of the frying pan into the fire...

catgirl I like your idea of standing as an independent - free chocolate and gin for all mothers! Vote for Joyful! grin

See that's just it seeker, the idea of not voting just isn't something I would normally consider. I think you're right, least worst it is!

Iggly Sat 06-Oct-12 08:23:31


I'd rather that people who didn't vote because they had no faith in any party would spoil the ballot quite frankly.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 08:23:33

"At least spoiling the ballot is not "not voting" which I feel to guilty about to do."

They have exactly the same impact on the result, though.

In a constituency of 300 people if 140 don' vote and 140 spoil their ballot papers and 20 vote BNP* you get a BNP* member of parliament.
( *for BNP insert extremist of choice)

Iggly Sat 06-Oct-12 08:24:49

But seeker what if 140 who wouldn't have voted at all came and spoiled their paper?

catgirl1976 Sat 06-Oct-12 08:31:22

You have my vote Joyful grin

Where I live there are (thankfully and so far) no BNP candidates etc. If I lived somewhere where there was I would vote for the least worst. I have never not voted, but as things are I would struggle to pick between the atm.

I expect I will still vote Lib Dem, but it's with an air of resignation and purely because I feel obliged to vote for someone.

catgirl1976 Sat 06-Oct-12 08:32:49

Oh also - where I live, it will actually make very little difference on a local level as it is Tory, always has been Tory and as far as I can tell will remain Tory for the forseable future.

I still vote though, despite the futility

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 08:33:13

Iggly- wouldn't make any difference- the person who got the votes would get in.

I don't know if there are BNP candidates here - I only moved here last year. Where I lived before there was quite widespread support for them - in the general election I think they came a very close third (out of about 10 parties in my constituency).

I think that's an interesting point though - if there are idiots like the BNP or the English Democrats standing then a spoiled ballot could have far more serious consequences than if it's just a straight choice between Labour, Lib Dem and Tory.

ZombTEE Sat 06-Oct-12 08:37:16

“If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and measures you want to vote for… But there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time that truly intelligent exercise of the franchise requires.” – Robert Heinlein, speaking through Lazarus Long in Time Enough For Love

catgirl it's the same here (Sussex coast). True blue forever... hmm

wigglesrock Sat 06-Oct-12 08:38:33

I've spoilt a vote before, I think its important to get out to vote and I don't agree with voting for the best out of a bad bunch - imo that's how parties are allowed to flourish when they're shite. I think a spoilt vote is just as valid a choice as a vote vote.

catgirl1976 Sat 06-Oct-12 08:39:48

I'm NW - but it's a coastal town for the elderly to retire to smile Sounds like we live in similar places Joyful. Shame I can't vote for you sad I like your gin policy.

Iggly Sat 06-Oct-12 08:42:04

But we're not really at risk of extremist candidates getting in on a wide scale. The turnout for the last election was 65%. If the other 35% spoiled their papers, we'd have the same result yes but at least there's be a recognition that people don't like any of the other parties.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 08:42:16

". I think a spoilt vote is just as valid a choice as a vote vote."

But it isn't! It doesn't actually count for anything.

Iggly Sat 06-Oct-12 08:43:51

It does in the uk - they count them. So it would count as a political statement.

Sirzy Sat 06-Oct-12 08:45:13

But it wouldn't make any more difference to the outcome than not voting would

wigglesrock Sat 06-Oct-12 08:46:42

Yes, it is - its my choice not to simply stick an x beside the party that my parents vote for, that I agree with 90%, 50% of their policies. I've heard people wonder how certain parties came to be the ones with the mandate in NI (where I live) - just voting for the sake of it is how.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 08:48:11

But the person who got the 40 votes would be just as much an MP as he would have been if everyone had voted for him.

RatherBeOnThePiste Sat 06-Oct-12 08:48:35

I'd vote for you Joyful!

wigglesrock Sat 06-Oct-12 08:51:11

Yes but if I spoil a vote I can legitimately rage against them and despair of the people that voted them in grin instead of being complicit when some of the dodgy ideas/policies float about, the perfect example being Jeremy Hunt, not that I can vote in manland elections but you know what I mean.

picnicbasketcase Sat 06-Oct-12 08:53:39

I'd be very surprised if Lib Dem got anywhere near the votes they got last time. Always a race between Conservative and Labour, people try to give another party more of a chance.. And they turn out to just be more Conservatives. I read a poll somewhere that said if a GE was held tomorrow 81% would vote Labour. Yes the country's in a load of financial trouble, but people were happier when the NHS, schools, benefits system etc etc were not being royally fucked over by people who can afford to not need them anyway.

wigglesrock Sat 06-Oct-12 08:55:54

manland elections grin, how apt, obviously I meant mainland.

OOAOML Sat 06-Oct-12 08:56:34

I spoiled my ballot at the last council elections. I knew it wouldn't have much impact (we have multi-member wards and rank the candidates) but over the last few years pretty much every party has p'd me off locally - crazy policies, supporting other parties crazy policies, not standing up to crazy policies etc. I wrote them a note explaining why I didn't feel I could vote for any of them as there were claims last time that people accidentally spoilt their papers because they didn't understand how to vote hmm

I did feel bad about it, but there were no parties standing I could vote for, no fringe extermist parties to keep out, so it seemed the best way of getting my point made (I've counted at elections before so I know the candidates/agents look at the spoiled papers)

RatherBeOnThePiste Sat 06-Oct-12 08:56:50

Where we are we have to vote tactically to keep folk out, and have always been a lib dem area, really not sure what will happen next time. Spolit papers would just let the tories roar through sad

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 09:05:58

" instead of being complicit when some of the dodgy ideas/policies float about."

But you are complicit!

Iggly Sat 06-Oct-12 09:06:09

And that mp would be on shoddy ground if they only got 2% of the vote.

I think spoiled ballots are better than none.

Iggly Sat 06-Oct-12 09:07:28

Just to be clear - in talking about people who don't bother voting because they see no choice. Not tactical voters, swing voters or can't be assed voters.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 09:09:58

It doesn't matter why people don't vote.

The effect is exactly the same, regardless of motive.

ZombTEE Sat 06-Oct-12 09:13:06

The effect is the same. But the reason does matter.

If you don't vote because you don't care, that's one thing, and your right.

If you don't vote because you feel nothing ever changes, that's another thing, and also your right.

It's always your right to not vote as much as it is your right to vote.

aufaniae Sat 06-Oct-12 09:13:18

Can't you vote for the "anything but the Tories" party? I know the other parties are not exactly inspiring at the moment, but the Tories are dangerous. We will all suffer because of their policies, the longer they're in the more damage they will do.

Have you seen their latest plans on benefits for example?

If you don't make the equivalent of the national minimum wage, 35-hours a week, you'll lose Universal Credit - a payments you may well rely on for rent. (This is an incentive to find more work, apparently. It takes no account for the fact there may well be no extra work available).

If you work part time, you'll have to attend the job centre, the same as unemployed people, and prove that you're trying to get a full time job. If they find a job with more hours, or a better paid job than the permanent part time job you're in, you'll have to take it, even if the new position is a temporary one, or one with worse prospects long term.

If you're self-employed you'll have to get a panel at the job centre to approve your business plans. If they approve it, you then have a year to make it work. After that your business must make more than the equivalent of 35 hours a week at national minimum wage. You must submit your accounts monthly, and they do not take account of any outlay on tools / equipment / training etc - those costs comes out of what they see as your profit. If you don't meet the minimum income requirement that month, you will lose entitlement to any UC, and they may demand you attend activities designed to get you back to work (thus getting in the way of you actually making a living). It totally ignores seasonal work or work which naturally takes over a month to see a profit. Currently the tax man allows looks at the whole year, which allows for some fallow months, and seasonal businesses. The new plans will remove help in those months when people need it most.

This is the important bit They are changing the minimum wage from something employers have a responsibility to pay you, to something you have a responsibility to earn - don't meet it and you will be penalised.

It's insanity, and will drive many people into homelessness and poverty.

More info here

Iggly Sat 06-Oct-12 09:13:20

I think an individual spoiled vote isn't worth anything but a huge proportion of them is, as a statement. It says something different to appearance of apathy.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 09:19:21

But the BNP candidate is still elected. And has exactly the same powers that he would have if he had got 100% of the vote.

wigglesrock Sat 06-Oct-12 09:22:03

See, I feel differently, I feel a spoiled vote is a vote just not for any of the above candidates.

I think, I may be completely wrong but Australia may have a "spoilt vote" box to tick? Of course that could just be info from a strory/ shite mini series etc blush that has just entered my head.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 09:25:08

Australia has a none of the above box. But we don't.

Are you saying that the % of the vote a candidate gets has an impact on their position once elected?

Iggly Sat 06-Oct-12 09:27:29

Yes the BNP still gets in but in the knowledge that they were on thin ground. Politicians work to the public. If they know that there are voters out there who can be bothered to spoil their paper, then they know they can come up with policies to make them vote for them.

wigglesrock Sat 06-Oct-12 09:31:26

Yes, I am saying that.

BitOutOfPractice Sat 06-Oct-12 09:33:24

I live in a staunch Tory area. I am a member of the Labour Party. At local elections, I rarely have a Labour candidate to vote for so I spoil my paper by writing "none of the above" on it. I hate doing it but don't want to vote for any of the others

At the general election I briefly considered voting libdem as the best chance of getting the Tory out (libdems 2nd here). I am SO bloody glad I didn't. I wouldn't like to feel even responsible by proxy for this government

ZombTEE Sat 06-Oct-12 09:33:36

aufaniae as a self employeed person, I will starve before I go through their hoops to prove my worth. I'm very lucky in that my husband makes a good salary that gets us through no matter how lean my months are. We currently don't get any WTC or CTC due to his salary, so we won't be any worse off if we don't get any UC.

It should also be noted that I am not a citizen of the UK and don't get a vote. And that I live in NI so our parties are a bit different on the local level anyway.

skrumle Sat 06-Oct-12 09:38:08

i got elected in may, and we saw the spoiled papers during the count. most were people who didn't understand the multi-member ward system or left the paper blank, but a reasonable number were people who wrote things like "why no labour?" and "i wanted to vote socialist" across their paper.

while i think this is a valid form of protest, a much more useful form of protest would be to write to the local labour party and ask why no-one was standing, or to actually join the labour party...

aufaniae Sat 06-Oct-12 09:49:08

ZombTEE sadly many will find themselves with not enough money for food should this come to fruition sad

OP, yes YABU to spoil your paper when you might have a chance to help get this lot out of power.

God forbid you fall on bad times, or get ill, or need a safety net of any sort, and the Tories have got in for a second term.

aufanie sod off with your sanctimonious attitude. I am unemployed due to physical and mental health problems and fully aware of what it's like to choose between paying for your child's winter coat or food.

I am no fan of the Tories but frankly as far as I can see the Lib Dems are pretty useless and Labour bear a lot of responsibility for the economic situation as it stands so I wouldn't trust them either. Hence my dilemma in the OP.

aufaniae Sat 06-Oct-12 10:22:12

I'm sorry if you find me sanctimonious, but I am stunned at what I'm learning about what's planned for UC.

It's absolutely barbaric IMO, and I'm trying to make people aware of what's going on.

Are you aware of This and this?

Thousands of families will face homelessness and be pushed further into poverty once the Tories' plans start to take effect. This is not about the economic crisis - this is about the Tories using it to drive through policies which are ideological and which will be hugely damaging to our society.

A spoiled vote is a wasted vote IMO. There is always a least bad option, and the ones in power are the worst by a long way IMO.

aufaniae Sat 06-Oct-12 10:26:04

No need to get personal btw, I thought my point was a valid one. I took your question seriously and offered my viewpoint.

Or do you only want people who agree with you to post hmm

Sorry, I overreacted a bit there - I can be a bit oversensitive about my situation, which of course I realise you couldn't have known about.

However I did point out in my OP that a spoiled paper is a waste of a vote, which is why I'm uncomfortable with the idea.

Cross-posted with you there. It was this bit that needled me - God forbid you fall on bad times, or get ill, or need a safety net of any sort. I find it safest on MN to never make assumptions about a poster's life (which is why all the 'if that's all you have to worry about...' responses irritate me so much but that's an entirely different discussion!).

If I wanted only people who agree with me to post I wouldn't be in AIBU! grin

aufaniae Sat 06-Oct-12 10:38:37

OK, fair enough smile

I think the point I was trying to make was that if you have a government in power who are attacking the vulnerable in the way this lot are, surely you it makes sense to vote against them, even if the alternatives aren't great.

aufaniae Sat 06-Oct-12 10:43:27

OK, that bit was a (pretty bad!) paraphrasing of Kinnock's speech, which was in my mind as someone else posted it on mumsnet very recently. I didn't really think of it as making assumptions about your life in particular although I can see how it reads like that!

"If Margaret Thatcher is re-elected as prime minister on Thursday, I warn you.

I warn you that you will have pain–when healing and relief depend upon payment.

I warn you that you will have ignorance–when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right.

I warn you that you will have poverty–when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay.

I warn you that you will be cold–when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford.

I warn you that you must not expect work–when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies.

I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light.

I warn you that you will be quiet–when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient.

I warn you that you will have defence of a sort–with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding.

I warn you that you will be home-bound–when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up.

I warn you that you will borrow less–when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday–

- I warn you not to be ordinary
- I warn you not to be young
- I warn you not to fall ill
- I warn you not to get old."

I'm sorry if it offended you sad I will have a ponder on that ...

That's a really interesting parallel with today's situation, thank you. I've never heard that speech before but it really fits today as well.

I think perhaps I'm more ignorant about politics than I realised. confused

ZombTEE Sat 06-Oct-12 11:00:36

I don't think anyone doesn't agree we are in a financial mess.

But the Tory's solution is worse than the problem. When are they going to reach into their own millionaire pockets to help people rather than pulling money from those who truly, definitely need it?

I am American and the same thing is happening there, even with a liberal President, thanks to a conservative House and Senate.

And I don't think it's going to get any better in 4 weeks when America goes to the polls.

aufaniae Sat 06-Oct-12 11:21:22

I suppose the question is, if you don't like any of the parties, and want to show your protest at the lack of genuine representation, what other avenues are there?

Narked Sat 06-Oct-12 11:24:39

If you can't bring yourself to vote tactically to get the current government out, abstain. Please don't fall for the 'local issues' thing and vote in a Lib Dem or Tory.

Panzee Sat 06-Oct-12 11:24:43

Candidates get to read the spoilt papers....grin

YouMayLogOut Sat 06-Oct-12 11:29:50

If you don't vote then you're effectively giving equal weight not only to the few main parties, but also the BNP, UKIP, Monster Raving Loonies and everyone else.

There's no point at all in spoiling a ballot paper, it has no effect except you lose your vote. No-one takes any notice of the spoilt ones, you may as well stay in bed.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 12:50:24

Candidates get to read the spoilt papers...."


Panzee Sat 06-Oct-12 12:59:52

And it's a way to get your point across more directly. One of our local elections had a terrible turnout. The elected person pontificated that it was because everyone was happy. If all the abstainers had gone in and written why they weren't voting then there was no way he could have said that.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 13:07:08

Oh, the naivety of youth!

Panzee Sat 06-Oct-12 13:14:44

Still better than abstaining.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 13:30:50

You can't abstain in the UK. Not voting is not the same as abstaining.

The candidate will not read the spoiled papers. He or she will be too busy settling into their office in Westiminster, rubbing their hands with glee at having won a seat they never expected to because people in their constituency didn't understand how the democratic process works.

YouMayLogOut Sat 06-Oct-12 13:36:53

Why didn't all the abstainers write him an email or letter? Surely more useful and measured, and more likely to be taken seriously, than a brief scrawled note?

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 13:57:40

Yep. A stiff email's going to work wonders.

VOTE! Our freedoms are hard won- don't fritter them away.

YouMayLogOut Sat 06-Oct-12 14:47:29

That was in comparison to spoiling a ballot paper, seeker.

Of course voting is a much better option.

YouMayLogOut Sat 06-Oct-12 15:05:29

Polititicans do take notice of correspondence, especially if a lot of people get in touch about the same thing. It doesn't mean they'll agree with you but at least there's a chance of getting some things changed.

I've never heard of any political changes ever being made due to spoilt ballot papers, so it does seem a pretty ineffective thing to do.

OOAOML Sat 06-Oct-12 17:59:55

Actually (well at the counts I have been at) the candidates and agents crowd around looking at the spoiled/rejected ballots as some of them are clearly votes for a particular candidate but not in the prescribed format (I saw one once that was a smiley face for example), and they review them with the people running the count to see if they can be allocated to a particular candidate or if they are truly spoiled papers.

And in our council election some of the comments from the paper were being tweeted by journalists at the count, it was an excellent way of getting your view into the public domain.

PoppaRob Sat 06-Oct-12 20:41:32

Here in Oz voting is compulsory. At the last federal election the informal vote reached 6% and was seen as something of a wake-up call to the major parties as Labor only won by forming a coalition with the Greens and Independents. Following the last electoral redistribution at both state and federal levels my area which is fairly much working class was made part of a rural electorate. The conservative candidate was always going to win, so I voted informally and lodged a blank ballot in the lower house. Our Senate candidates are voted by the entire state so it was a worthwhile exercise to spend the time numbering the several dozen candidates in order, and in fact a progressive and generally clear-thinking Independent candidate easily achieved a Senate quota despite not being preferenced by any of the major party tickets.

sausagesandwich34 Sat 06-Oct-12 20:53:17

BNP got a seat on my local council with less than 8% of the vote

voter appathy and spoilt ballots allows idiots like this to think they are important

if you think your vote is worthless due to the area you live in, or because you don't like the main party, please still use your vote tactically

BitOutOfPractice Sat 06-Oct-12 23:05:10

So if my choice is simply liberal or Tory and I don't want either of them in, and I'm a labour supporter, what do I do?

And before anyone says "stand yourself" I'll point out that that is not a realistic prospect for me.

So, what do I do?

CommunistMoon Sat 06-Oct-12 23:13:29

^vote anyway. Not voting = Tory gets in. Ok, so the Lib Dems fucked up the only worthwhile thing they could have had a hand in delivering, i.e. electoral reform, but FGS vote anyway.

euwa Sat 06-Oct-12 23:14:20

seeker thank you so much and others for posting. I never thought about the harm my spoiling the vote paper could do. I always go to make my mark thinking so many fought for me to have the opportunity. I will not spoil my paper in future.
Like I always say amazing the knowlege that is gained through MN.

BitOutOfPractice Sat 06-Oct-12 23:31:11

The Tories get in if I vote lib dem, if I spoil my paper or if I don't vote. The result is the same

Simply not voting is not an option for me. It is part of my DNA that I must vote

I cannot bring myself to put a cross in the lib dem box. Couldn't stand them even before clegg sold his arse soul to the devil. Just can't do it.


seeker Sun 07-Oct-12 07:31:19

That's fantastic, euwa!

ZombTEE Sun 07-Oct-12 07:40:36

So find someone who can stand, if you can't, and encourage them to do so. Don't just stand there and wail "There's nothing I can do!"

There's always something you can do.

LesleyPumpshaft Sun 07-Oct-12 08:03:22

It's not going to be a dirty protest isi it OP? grin

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