‘Spoiling the Ballot = NOTA’ and Other Voting Myths

It is a common misconception that it is already possible to cast a vote for None of the Above in the UK by either not voting or spoiling the ballot paper.

Abstaining is simply not participating and can be dismissed as voter apathy with no further analysis.

Spoiling the ballot is not the same either as all spoilt ballots are lumped in with those spoilt in error. Any spoilt vote count is therefore meaningless and does not provide a measure of voter discontent.

An official NOTA option, by contrast, would.

Voting NOTA, if we could, would be a way of not just officially registering a vote of no confidence in all candidates, parties and policies put forward but also a way of demanding better choices.

Another common misconception is that if only more people would bother to vote, we’d get better parties, candidates and policies in government.

Unfortunately, when you really understand how our voting system works, it becomes clear that this is not the case.

The ‘First Past The Post’ voting system, combined with deeply entrenched voting habits in hundreds of traditionally safe Labour and Conservative seats, ensures that our electoral system is effectively a two horse race with only one or other of the big two able to form a government, either with an outright majority or in coalition with smaller parties who then have little or no influence over policy in practice.

In such a system, the third biggest party – currently the Liberal Democrats – exist solely to shoehorn one of the big two into power. For this reason, new parties and independents stand no chance of forming a government and very little chance of having any real influence over policy in our current system. Even with the best of intentions, they essentially just split the vote and facilitate the continuation of a two party system. This would be undemocratic even if those two parties were diametrically opposed – but they aren’t. Beyond the electioneering and hype, they are both parties of big business and little else, answerable to the same corporate and financial elites.

An official NOTA option would, by its very existence, level this playing field considerably. More discussion of the how and why can be found here:


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2 thoughts on “‘Spoiling the Ballot = NOTA’ and Other Voting Myths

  1. […] I have written at length about why NOTA is a democratic pre-requisite, how there is currently no similar formal mechanism in the UK and why NOTA is therefore achievable many times before. (If you disagree with any of […]


  2. […] It is essential to be able to do this in any true democracy because, at its core, true democracy is about people consenting to be represented in government by whoever they collectively choose to elect. But consent is only measurable if it is possible to withhold consent. The act of consenting and endorsing candidates / parties (by voting) is formal and binding, so the act of withholding consent and rejecting must be formal and binding also in order to be valid. Not voting or ballot spoiling / ‘writing in’ are meaningless, informal acts that in no way equate to this. […]


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