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    Tuesday, 13 November 2012

    Spoiling my vote

    Ever since I passed the age of 18, I've used my legal right in the UK to vote in every poll I could: local council, British Parliament, European Parliament and even the messed-up referendum on the Alternative Vote that we had last year. In each of those cases, I made a point of considering my available options and I voted accordingly. I went along and marked my ballot paper in person where possible, or I filled in a postal vote for the last Westminster election in 2010 as I was on vacation in Florida when it was held.

    Unfortunately, it seems that my diligence in voting makes me unusual amongst the UK population these days. The long-term trend for voter turnout is downwards (as you can see).

    However, the latest election that's happening in the UK (well, England and Wales outside London) this week is for the newly-created posts of Police and Crime Commissioners. It's a textbook example of how not to organise an election, as pointed out eloquently by the Electoral Reform Society. This election has been incredibly badly managed and publicised by the Government, and lots of early polls are suggesting a tiny turnout of less than 20%. Despite the political crap about "democracy" being spouted by some Tory ministers, it's clear that very few people want this change in how the police are run, and it has simply been imposed from the top. Too few people care about the results of these elections for them to be valid - most people don't want the police politicised.

    After a lot of thought about the issue, I've decided how I'm going to vote this time. For the first time ever, I'm explicitly going to turn up and spoil my ballot paper as a protest - I do not want this crap. I urge other people in England and Wales to consider doing the same.

    23:50 :: # :: /misc/politics :: 4 comments


    Re: Spoiling my vote
    Nick Leverton wrote on Wed, 14 Nov 2012 00:21

    I endorse this call. I'm normally about as non-active in politics as you can get, but I've already returned my postal vote with "no to politicisation of policing" written across all candidate boxes (1 Lab, 1 Tory, 1 independent and 1 BNP in our area).

    Re: Spoiling my vote
    Mike Pitt wrote on Wed, 14 Nov 2012 07:39

    Policing is political. And always has been.

    Some simple Qs:

    Do you want police tasering people? Does Nick want the BNP commissioner? Do you want Cambridge to have a member of the English Democrats? Or do you want equality to be included in priorities?

    As a liberal I'll also ask: do you think the police should be more involved in restorative justice, something that reduces reiffending?

    I'm sorry but this is another of those ideas that assumes someone will care about something they simply don't.

    This election has been badly organised and publicised. The decision to not allow a free post is ridiculous. I'm not a fan of elections to single person authority (I prefer councils and parliaments). That's not what the vote covers.

    There will be a huge number of spoiled ballots. This will be because the ballot paper is a little confusing and it's the first SV in most of England. In fact spoiled ballots will be trotted out against decent electoral reform.

    There will still be a result. That's all that the Home Office want.

    On Friday (about 4pm) you will have a PCC.

    If you are happy to accept the BNP or ED or UKIP spoil the ballot. It doesn't help them win, but their support will turn out. I hope it is still small enough to not matter.

    Re: Spoiling my vote
    Andrew Shadura wrote on Wed, 14 Nov 2012 08:38

    Unfortunately, there are still countries in continental Europe where that wouldn't work, and it basically doesn't matter if you vote or not — your vote will be falsified anyway.

    Re: Spoiling my vote
    Nick Leverton wrote on Fri, 16 Nov 2012 10:40

    I take Mike's point, but to vote would lend this election a legitimacy that I do not wish to endow it with. To not vote would indicate, to anyone who cares, apathy rather than opposition to the idea. It is just window dressing to add party political control over yet another area of our lives.

    Had the candidates been barred from any political affiliation I might have felt merely apathetic like the other 90% of the electorate - although I might perhaps have taken it more seriously, depending on how the cut and thrust of the hustings went.

    If we want to go down the route of ballots for everything then let it be on proper issues with local referenda by politically balanced councils that have power to action them. I do not wish a single-politics Crime Commissioner and I refuse to take part in choosing one.


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