The No to AV campaing claims AV will cause spoilt Ballot Papers

The Evening Standard published a story on 7th April claiming that adopting the Alternative Vote (AV) will lead to more ballot papers being spoiled

Adopting the Alternative Vote (AV) for Westminster elections is likely to lead to more spoilt ballot papers and lower turnout, campaigners against reform claimed today.

No to AV published research highlighting the “damaging” effects of the relative complexity of AV compared with the existing first-past-the-post system.

It suggested that elections in which AV was used had higher rates of accidentally spoilt papers and fewer people taking part.

Completing the AV ballot paper is I must admit slightly more complex than completing a First Past The Post ballot paper. It does require that you can count up to, probably about twelve at a maximum  and recognise the numbers and write the appropriate numbers. Now most five-year old kids can manage to count and write the numbers up to ten, so hopefully by the time they get to voting age they will have added to their repertoire.

The fact that we have been electing the Mayor of London using AV for the past three Mayoral elections without too much drama does not appear to have occurred to the writer, but never mind don’t let the facts get in the way of a story.

The custom of putting an ‘X’ in the box alongside the name of our favoured  candidate is presumably two-fold, to ensure that the illiterate were not disenfranchised*, and  to reduce the possibility of the voter being identified**.  However working on the theory that complete illiteracy is less common than in the 1880’s I hope that the vast majority of the electorate can count up to twenty, even if the ‘No to AV campaign’ have to take their shoes and socks of to do it.

It should also be pointed out that there is no need to use your Alternative Vote, if you only want to acknowledge the Tory candidate put your 1 in his or her box and leave the others blank. In fact if only one candidate was being ranked , I’m fairly sure that the returning officer would accept an ‘X’ in that box as being a valid vote.


* How they knew who they were voting for I don’t know.

** If the powers that be want to know how you voted, believe me they can find out – those numbers on your ballot paper aren’t just to help them count how many have been used.

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