Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Will I or Won't I Vote?

There's a question I never thought I would ask myself. With the elections only a week and a bit away I don't yet know whether or not I will be voting. I know that I won't be voting for a specific candidate - the Conservative Party have put two leaflets through my door since last year's election, both this week and one which was missing its second side. I just can't bring myself to vote Lib Dem even though the candidate is a good guy. I just wouldn't even consider voting for UKIP. So I have no candidate to vote for.

The question now is do I walk to the polling station and spoil my ballot paper? Part of me says absolutely I have to do this - voting isn't only a right, it's a duty and if we don't vote as individuals we have no cause for complaint. The other part of me isn't so sure. If I feel that the political system doesn't care for me, offer me a candidate I want to vote for or does anything to inspire my action why should I offer the victors legitimacy?

If I spoil my ballot paper (carefully, these people know how to claim a spoiled ballot paper as a legitimate vote) I have taken part in the election, increased the turnout yet my protest is not registered. If I don't show up then the turnout reflects my lack of support for any of the candidates. Although I will be classed as lazy and uncaring. I am neither, I wrote to my councillors this year about an issue which I felt strongly about. One replied saying she agreed completely with me but nothing else, one sent me a copy of the council's press release on the issue and the third didn't bother to reply. I copied this letter to the leader of the council, I didn't get a reply. Who is lazy and uncaring? Me or them?

Still, the thought of not using my vote is alien to me and now I'm left with a really difficult choice. Will I or Won't I vote this year?


Stephen Glenn said...

If none of the candidates do meet you expectation by all means spoil your ballot, it shows you respect the process if not the candidates.

If you put some thought into how it is done it will be remembered, trust me any which are more imaginative I've always remembered, Xs in all boxes or more than allowed fade into the recesses of the mind.

The candidates and/or their agents do have the right to view every ballot that is being rejected, in the presence of the returning officer, at the end of the count to assertain that they are indeed spoilt for whatever reason. it can be a humbling experience and homourous as well at times, especially if something written applies to none of us at all. The various ways in which votes are spoilt are counted and included in the full list of results.

Of course if you are a close run contest and one of the contenders is someone you definitley don't want in and the other (or maybe even someone who you feel has no chance) is more capable of providing some sort of support for what your looking for vote on that if at all possible.

Louise said...

Ah - the spoiled ballot paper. I love those. I could do a whole blogpost just on that. The con of the X right through the paper going to the candidate the middle of the X hits.

One story which always makes me laugh is from a Yorkshire seat in 2001. It became obvious the Labour candidate had won well so checking the spoiled ballot papers was something of a formality. One spoiled paper had a penis drawn next to the Labour candidate's name. The Conservative and Lib Dem agents agreed that this was a valid vote for Labour - the Labour agent disagreed and an argument ensured.

The Labour majority was increased by one.

Jeff said...

I blindly voted SNP for the council as I knew I wanted them in my first and second vote here in Scotland.

To be honest, I think they're making a bit of a hash of things in Edinburgh and although I don't regret voting, I wish I'd put more thought into it.

So yeah, a tough spot you're in there but I would urge you to find a reason to vote for someone.

Louise said...

I had been planning to vote Green this year but unlike last year there is no Green candidate. Bah!

Stephen said...

If you feel disenfranchised by our political system you should save yourself the walk to the polling station; if it is merely that the candidate choice is not as you would wish I would have thought it best to spoil your paper.

I voted Lib Dem at the last general election for the first time in my life and it pained me to do so. But beyond their dignified opposition to the Iraq invasion it was a tactical vote, they should have had a good chance of unseating the unpleasant and unpopular Charles Clarke. But the Lib Dems put up a hopeless candidate and didn't seem to have any campaign whatever, to the point where it felt like a vote wasted.

I'll be voting Green.