theleaveswant: text; "those who can, do. those who can't, run this fucking place" (politics)
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PSA

([personal profile] theleaveswant Oct. 26th, 2015 02:40 am)
I tried to write this in a comment on one of [personal profile] recessional's (otherwise totally on-point) posts on election day but I accidentally backpaged or something and firefox ate it, so trying again:


Do not spoil your ballot in a Canadian federal election.


Election rules change all the time so this may not always be the case, but under the current framework it is a futile action and accomplishes absolutely nothing. Trust me, I was a deputy returning officer on Monday and have been a DRO or a poll clerk in almost every federal or applicable provincial election since 2003 (Manitoba until '08, Ontario since): you're wasting your own time.


Elections Ontario at least has a category for declined ballots, which is when you receive your ballot and return it to the DRO saying "I do not want to vote for any of these weevils". I don't know how much weight that carries, I suspect "roughly equivalent to a flake of dandruff" unless they get a LOT of them in a single election, but there is a recognized place for protest voting (or protest not-voting). Elections Canada has no such provision.

A true spoiled ballot, per EC terminology, is a ballot that is returned to the DRO rather than being placed in the ballot box. EC, unlike EO, makes no distinction between ballots handed back in protest and those returned because the voter messed up and wants to take advantage of their one do-over. These all go into one envelope together and the total number is used to balance the number of ballots issued by the RO with the number of ballots, used and unused, found at the end of the day. That's it. The most recognition a real spoiled ballot will get is an entry with other "notable events of the day" in the poll book (log used to record new registrations, oaths administered, etc.).

Any ballot that makes it into the ballot box that is not clearly marked for a single recognized candidate gets rejected when votes are counted. This includes ballots deposited without marks and ballots with any kind of writing: no write-in candidates (Elections Canada doesn't recognize 'em), no editorial comments. Just like spoiled ballots, no distinction is made between deliberate protests and accidental screw-ups (even assuming the people conducting and observing the count can deduce the intentions of the person submitting a given ballot, which we often can't); rejected ballots go in one envelope and are used to reconcile ballots issued with ballots returned. The most acknowledgment a recognizable protest vote gets is a note on the sheet used for recording stuff like objections from scrutineers at the time of the count. These notes may or may not ever get read and if they do there isn't really anything anybody working for Elections Canada can do about them.



If you want to participate in the election process but don't like any of the candidates in your area? I hate to say it, but on election day at least you're kinda screwed. You have to pick the least of X number of evils, or your vote doesn't count.

In the longer term, if you want something to change (or to resist a suggested change), either take it up with whomever is in office (email, physical mail, phone, social media, showing up to public appearances--you have options) or support the person you want to replace them (or both; both is good). Make sure that you're sending your message to the person at the right level of government to deal with your issue (MP, MPP, city counsellor, etc.), and don't just dump your complaints on elections officials or campaign volunteers because we have no more ability to make stuff happen than you do.


(Also: if you're "strategic voting" or "voting against" a particular party or candidate, do some research on the electoral history of and current trends in your riding to figure out how high the risk of your anti-preference winning actually is and how much leeway you have to vote for who you most want, or least don't-want, vs. who is the safest bet to keep the enemy out. A strong second-place showing tells the party your riding is a smart place to invest resources so they'll have a better shot at taking it next time.)
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