In response to feedback, we have today republished our definitive ‘None of the Above’ white paper with a new summary clarifying exactly how a formal and binding NOTA option would work in practice and why we believe it to be such a game changer. View and download it here.
Tag Archives: None of the above
Alongside our white paper, we also publish today a critique of the Make Votes Matter campaign for Proportional Representation.
You can read and download it in .pdf format below (other formats are available on request):
Feel free to share!
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:
Dear Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley,
I wrote to you last year, and then again in reply to your response, but have yet to receive a further response from you. In your first reply, Caroline stated:
“…the Green Party fully backs having a “re-open nominations” (RON) option on the ballot paper and I’d agree that a “none of the above” (NOTA) option is in the same spirit. It’s not possible for us to campaign on everything and I don’t think we’ll be doing anything proactive on this in the immediate future, but I’ll let the campaigns coordinators know about the open letter and your calls.”
I’m writing to you again now as it strikes me that with a snap general election coming up and talk of progressive alliances (that could, in theory, see the Green party forming part of a coalition government after June 8th) the time may well be now for you to do something proactive on the issue of NOTA / RON.
If you were to bring your NOTA / RON policy out of the shadows and in to the limelight, putting it at the heart of your election manifesto, this would, in my view, not only do wonders for our cause but also be a sure vote winner for your party among those who would dearly love to see a formal and binding NOTA option on ballot papers in the future.
I sincerely believe that to not do this at this time would be to miss a trick.
I also still feel strongly that the policy would carry more weight with the general public if you reworded it favouring the often used and self-explanatory NOTA acronym over the more jargonistic RON.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this and hopefully taking an important step forward with you towards real electoral reform in the UK at this upcoming election.
NB: This is a hastily arrived at assessment of the state of play. More detail to follow!
So, the largely meaningless binary ‘choice’ season has been brought forward with Theresa May’s announcement of a snap general election on June 8th 2017. As with any election, this will inevitably lead to increased interest in our campaign to get a formal and binding None of the Above (NOTA) option on UK ballot papers. It therefore presents an opportunity to further establish the urgent need for electoral reform as a mainstream talking point in the coming weeks.
So here’s my initial strategy thoughts from a NOTA point of view. Clearly, the chances of getting NOTA on ballot papers by June are zero and we will need to take the fight to the next government. As I see it, with the First Past The Post system being what it is, there are only really four possible outcomes at the upcoming election with some more likely than others:
1: A Tory government, either with a majority or as a minority government – LIKELY
2: A Labour government, either with a majority or as a minority government – LESS LIKELY
3: A coalition government with the Tories in the driving seat – POSSIBLE
4: A coalition government with Labour in the driving seat – POSSIBLE
Neither an outright Tory government or a Labour government are likely to be open to the idea of introducing NOTA any time soon. Currently, the only pro-NOTA party in a position to possibly end up in power in some small way after June 8th is the Green party, who have an official policy to get a form of NOTA (RON – Re-Open Nominations) on ballot papers. Clearly, the Green’s are not in a position to win the election outright and form a government.
So from our point of view, the best possible strategy, it seems to me, would be to support the so-called ‘progressive alliance’ with a view to getting a ‘rainbow coalition’ government with the Greens and others in a position to influence the Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party.
With that in mind, I propose that NOTA UK and its supporters spend the coming days and weeks:
a) lobbying the Green party to bring their pro-NOTA policy to the forefront of their manifesto, rather than hide it in the shadows as they have up to now, in order to show that they mean business when it comes to electoral reform and representing the currently silent majority
b) lobby the Labour party to commit to the progressive alliance being put forward and
c) lobby all other parties that could possibly wind up in a ‘rainbow coalition’ government to publicly declare where they stand on the issue of NOTA and electoral reform in general.
As stated, this is a swiftly arrived at strategy for the benefit of those asking what our plans are. Much more detail and rationale to follow! Feel free to share.
NOTA UK is a volunteer run organisation, if you’d like to donate to our campaign you can do so via the paypal button at the top right of this page. For an overview of our campaign and its aims check out our explainer videos.
You can also support the campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:
Onwards & Upwards!
Founder NOTA UK
It was essentially a demonstration of the extent to which his company Cambridge Analytica is now able to harness the power of ‘Big Data’ (the online and digital fingerprints we all leave behind) to influence global elections.
The company boasts “a revolutionary approach to audience targeting, data modelling and psychographic profiling” that has made them “a leader in behavioural micro-targeting for election processes around the world”.
In it, Nix explains how his company used this cutting edge combination of technology and psychological profiling to propel Republican nominee candidate Ted Cruz from total obscurity to being the main rival to Trump. At the end of the talk he reveals that, in light of Cruz pulling out, one of the two remaining contenders in the race for the Whitehouse is now using their technology.
That contender, it transpires, was Donald Trump.
It further transpires, according to an investigation by Das Magazine reporters Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus, that Cambridge Analytica’s services were also hired by Nigel Farage’s ‘Leave EU’ campaign.
Much more on the company, the origins of the technology and details of how it was deployed during the EU referendum and US presidential election can be found here.
The upshot is this: for a price – literally millions – this company can, and does, use the vast amount of online data that exists on us all, in conjunction with advanced psychological profiling methods and existing social media algorithms, to profile, target and then push the buttons of millions of people in order to get them to vote – or not vote – however their paymasters want them to.
And that’s exactly what they did. This is not a conspiracy theory. There’s really no mystery to it. This is what modern ‘democracy’ has become.
It appears that in both cases, Cambridge Analytica profiled and targetted people who are susceptible to propaganda and well presented political messages, then ruthlessly exploited them, resulting in a spike in engagement on polling day among their paymasters supporters and a drop off among supporters of their opponents. Many a Remain and Clinton supporter has since bemoaned the fact that they didn’t vote for the simple reason that they believed the result to be a foregone conclusion.
What this means, above all else, is that neither Brexit or Trump’s victory were results of an organic movement to ‘take back control’ from the establishment as they are routinely portrayed. They were largely bought about by cynical, calculating, undemocratic mass manipulation of the general public via targetted psychological online profiling.
In spite of the non-racist, honourable intentions of many of those who backed Brexit and Trump, there can be no doubt that these election results have empowered the far right, to the point of it being able to rebrand itself as ‘Alt-Right’ and swell its ranks.
So, in a very real sense, this company and these campaigns (in conjunction with the programming of much of the mainstream media over many years, of course) could be said to be largely responsible for not only the results of these two crucial elections but also the rise of the so called ‘Alt-Right’ and the ‘Fake News’ / ‘Post Truth’ hysteria that has ensued since those results were announced. Without this intervention, it is entirely conceivable that the extreme fascist views of the far right would still be firmly in the fringes. Instead, they are now very much in the mainstream, barely concealed in the rhetoric of its most prominent cheerleaders.
What a pity these tech geniuses never use their powers for good. Imagine if, rather than just selling themselves out to the highest bidder with no concern for morals or ethics, they were to put their efforts behind genuinely progressive, pro-democracy campaigns.
MAYBE THEY ALREADY ARE…
I greatly doubt it.
Seriously though, it’s bad enough that our electoral systems are fundamentally undemocratic and ensure that only representatives of the same political class can ever get in, and that the partisan, deeply biased and hugely powerful mainstream media actively seek to control the electorate and directly influence our elections.
Now, on top of all that, unless you are aware of the dangers and take steps to avoid them, the apparently free and open internet is now also fully at the mercy of powerful undemocratic forces seeking to steal our elections.
Needless to say, we’re up against it. And needless to say, the need for truly democratic reform of our electoral systems and systems of government has never been greater.
Legislatively, much more needs to be done, clearly, if for the right price an Orwellian communications company can be drafted in to ensure an election victory for whoever can afford them, regardless of any moral or ethical concerns. But a formal, binding None of the Above (NOTA) option on ballots remains the logical, systemic starting point for this process. Find out why here.
NOTA, properly implemented, is a democratic pre-requisite, representing as it does the essential ability to be able to formally withhold consent and reject all that is on offer at an election, if deemed necessary, in a way that can affect the result if enough people do it. This mechanism, in its fully fledged form (as opposed to the token gesture, watered down versions in India and Nevada, for example), is currently absent both in the US, the UK and indeed everywhere, when it should be central to any and all systems claiming to be truly democratic. When understood this way, you cannot argue against NOTA and still be pro-democracy, meaning that all the while there is a need to present the various systems we have as paragons of democracy, even if they aren’t, NOTA is 100% achievable.
Introducing a form of NOTA is already UK Green Party policy. We now need to get this essential, transformative reform seriously recognised and firmly on the table across the board. In my view, as a matter of urgency.
With this in mind, I implore anyone reading this to familiarise yourself with the current state of play and recent articles on our website and start the all important conversations with your friends and families about how coming together and campaigning for NOTA presents a golden opportunity for us all to meaningfully push things forward at this surely critical time.
You can support the campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:
If you live in the US, you can support and help draw attention to the need for a formal, binding NOTA option on ballot papers here.
UPDATE: 14/02/17 – Cambridge Analytica’s Trump and Cruz campaigns were specifically bankrolled by billionaire Trump backer Robert Mercer. It transpires that prominent Trump advisor Steve Bannon was, until recently, also on the board of the company. It is now reportedly being lined up to handle all of the Trump administration’s digital communications, meaning it will be working closely with many departments across government. A detailed and extremely worrying analysis of what all this means for the future can be found here.
UPDATE: 27/02/17 – When I originally posted and shared this blog, many people instantly dismissed it as a ‘conspiracy theory’. Understandable, perhaps, as you’d think something like this would be headline news. Well, it’s not quite there yet, but elements of the mainstream media are finally reporting it. This excellent investigative piece appeared in The Observer on 25/02/17, confirming the story and revealing even more details.
UPDATE: 16/07/18 – Needless to say, this article has now been fully corroborated by the high profile media revelations of recent months. We now know that both election results were arrived at fraudulently. Yet Trump and Brexit trundle on while the fascist alt-right continues to be the primary beneficiary. It’s almost as though that was always the objective… buckle up!