At the 2017 French presidential election, a record number of people made use of the ‘vote blanc’ option, a way of rejecting all candidates put forward at the ballot box.
This rise occurred in conjunction with the lowest overall turnout in a French presidential election for nearly fifty years. Clearly, more people than ever felt that the candidates on offer represented a Hobson’s Choice that many could not bring themselves to make and chose either to stay at home, spoil the ballot paper or cast a blank vote.
From our point of view, while this is telling, it’s very important to realise that the ‘vote blanc’ option in France is very different from the formal and binding ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option we are proposing should be added to ballot papers in the UK, and indeed all countries.
The crucial words are ‘formal’ and ‘binding’. Currently, blank votes in French elections are not counted as valid votes. They are counted, but not in a way that can ever affect the election result. For this reason, while they are seen as distinct from spoiled ballots (which can of course be counted as spoiled in error), they are no more useful as a measure of voter discontent in reality.
In order to be truly meaningful, any option that allows a voter to register their rejection of all that is on offer and withhold their consent at an election MUST be formal and binding, as the act of endorsing / consenting by voting is formal and binding. It MUST be counted as a valid vote and, if applicable, be able to void the result and trigger a second election if it ‘wins’.
At NOTA UK we are campaigning for just such a formal and binding NOTA option and nothing less. We have made representations to parliament and are actively lobbying the Green Party of England & Wales to promote their currently low key policy of getting RON (Re-Open Nominations) on ballot papers to centre stage in their manifesto for the upcoming UK general election. We have also suggested that they commit to using the more self-explanatory NOTA acronym and adopt our proposals for dealing with the logistics of a NOTA ‘win’.
Mechanisms like ‘Vote Blanc’ and an increase in people using them is a significant step in the right direction. But until such time as they can materially effect the election result, they remain examples of faux-NOTA or NOTA-lite, symbolic token gestures that do nothing to empower those disillusioned enough with the political system to want to formally reject all candidates and parties put forward at election time.
You can support our campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition: