On 05/02/15, the parliamentary Political & Constitutional Reform Committee (PCRC) published its report into ‘voter engagement’ in which it recommends a whole slew of genuinely quite radical (by UK standards!) electoral reforms to be implemented during the next parliament. The full report can be downloaded here.
Here’s what they had to say about NOTA, as a result of NOTA UK’s lobbying and public engagement with the committee:
“Having the option to vote for “none of the above” on the ballot paper is the proposal which has had the largest support among those who have given their views to the surveys we have drawn upon. This change would enable people to participate at elections even if they did not wish to vote for any of the candidates presented. If large numbers of people did choose to cast their vote in this way it would serve as a wakeup call for candidates and parties that they needed to do more to gain the support of the electorate. We recommend that the Government consult on including, on ballot papers for national elections, an option for voters who wish to participate but not vote for any of the candidates presented, and report to the House on this proposal by May 2016.”
This really is a huge leap forward for us. Although the committee has stopped short of including NOTA as one of its recommended immediate reforms, it has explicitly stated that it believes that the demand for NOTA and the potential positive effects on voter engagement of having it means that the next government must hold a public consultation on the issue.
Although this is slightly less than we could have hoped for, it is still a huge achievement when you consider that a year ago the mere mention of NOTA in the corridors of power was likely to be met with derision and a cold shoulder.
The PCRC survey mentioned above, in which we were able to get them to publish a question about inclusion of NOTA as a reform in and of itself regardless of whether voting is made compulsory or not, is very telling. This question got the second most responses (15,840), beaten only by the question about compulsory voting (16,095).
A whopping 71.8% of respondents to our question voted ‘yes’ to NOTA.
I think it’s fair to say we have now successfully put NOTA on the map, a key aim of this campaign from the beginning five years ago. There’s a long way to go of course. But no-one can say we aren’t getting the arguments heard and moving in the right direction.
A massive thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation and to all our facebook, twitter, youtube and website followers for your continued support in our efforts to make UK democracy fit for purpose.
Onwards & Upwards!
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