Comment: Democracy is making a choice – so make a choice

Why spoiling your ballot is no better than staying at home.

By Aled Thomas

Is there any more smugly infuriating thing to say than “I will vote for the none-of-the above party?”

Well, probably yes, “this cash machine is out of order” and “not tonight, I’m watching Glee” I suppose, but the call for the ballot form to have a box for none-of the above is way up there.

There are plenty of people calling for people to go out an vote (and some of them are well-known actors and quiz show hosts, so should be taken seriously) and they are saying it’s better to go to the polling station and spoil your ballot than it is to sit at home watching the telly.

You might not like this, but I have to say: is it hell. Democracy is about making a choice from the available options. If you don’t want to make that choice, fine. Don’t. But don’t try and distinguish yourself from the apathetic ones who don’t even know there’s an election on, and are sitting slack-jawed through Jeremy Kyle.

Indeed I think those who don’t vote because they don’t care or don’t know, are at least more honest than those who don’t vote, and then congratulate themselves for being too smart, too discerning, too fastidious entirely for all this grubby party politics. (It’s one of those irregular verbs: I don’t vote because the choice is so poor; you don’t vote because you can’t decide; they don’t vote because they’re too fat and lazy.)

It’s worth repeating: democracy is about making a choice. If you don’t like the choice, then stand yourself. Don’t roll up to the polling station, make some facile remark on you paper like ‘don’t vote, it only encourages them’, or draw an extra box with ‘none of the box’ next to it , and then go away thinking you’ve done something clever, subversive or interesting at all.

“That’ll show ’em. My spoiled ballot will mean they have to take me seriously and present me with a candidate much more to my liking next time.”

No it doesn’t, and I suggest you grow up. Sharpish. If you really don’t care for any of the candidates, well fair enough. But please don’t suggest that this is because something’s lacking in the political process rather than lacking in you.

If you want a better range of candidates next time; join a party and work for one, start your own party, stand as an independent. If the assorted pranksters and single-issue nutters who will clutter up ballot papers in hundreds of constituencies can do it then so can you.

Non-voting is non-voting whatever the reason. So on May 6th, be a grown-up, get out and vote.

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