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Voting for 'None of the Above': Enabling electoral disenchantment

Thursday, May 5, 2022 - 18:00 to 19:30

Richard Heffernan discusses enabling electoral disenchantment to be expressed at an election.

Electoral choices are provided for us by the prevailing party system. Legacy parties exist because of historical background, past and some pre-existing partisanship, being protected when the electoral system returning the House of Commons, SMPS, often imposes upon citizens the need to tactically vote in such first order elections. The electoral choices on offer do not always bear out electoral preferences. Electoral disenchantment, expressed in non voting, reflects both apathy and, increasingly, alienation on the part of registered voters. Presently ballots which are deliberately spoilt go uncounted, so citizens should be able to register a refusal to choose between the party candidates presented at an election. That refusal, recorded and reported as part of the electoral process, would be achieved by adding a box 'None of the above' on the ballot paper. Electoral law should then enable an election to be rerun- with different candidates- should 50 percent plus 1 of those voting support 'None of the above' on a particular ballot. Counting and reporting abstentions would encourage the disenchanted to participate, allow citizens to chastise the political class and so help boost turnout. Alongside other forms of electoral and political reform, registering and reporting electoral abstentions would play an important part in the urgent tasks of re-equipping and hardening our democracy, its political institutions, and reforming our presently unfit for purpose political class.

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