Decline your ballot and none of the above movements a big success in Ontario

Andy Radia
·Politics Reporter

Aside from the Kathleen Wynne's Liberals -- and maybe the unions -- the big winner in last week's Ontario election might have been the proponents of 'none of the above.'

According to unofficial results released by Elections Ontario 31,399 Ontarians declined their ballot in this election compared to only 2,335 in 2011.

During the election campaign, Democracy watch — a citizen-based democracy watchdog — urged Elections Ontario , by threat of court action, to advertise the fact that voters have the legal right under section 53 of the Elections Act to decline their ballot (i.e. vote "none of the above") and have it counted separately from a spoiled ballot.

[Section] 53. An elector who has received a ballot and returns it to the deputy returning officer declining to vote, forfeits the right to vote and the deputy returning officer shall immediately write the word "declined" upon the back of the ballot and preserve it to be returned to the returning officer and shall cause an entry to be made in the poll record that the elector declined to vote.
R.S.O. 1990, c. E.6, s. 53."

Democracy Watch's premise was that there were a growing number of Ontarians staying away from the polls because they didn't like any of the mainstream political parties or our first-past-the-post electoral system; that if people knew they could make a protest vote, more of them would show up to mark their ballots.

To their credit, they did a great job earning publicity about their campaign.

And, to Elections Ontario's credit, they did do some 'advertising' of the option.

The 2014 total is the highest number of declined ballots ever recorded dating back to 1975 election.

Election

# of Declined Ballots

Voter Turnout

2014

31,399

52.1%

2011

2,335

48.2%

2007

3,142

52.1%

2003

2,631

56.8%

1999

3,564

58.3%

[ Related: Outgoing Ontario MPPs to earn $2.8 million in severance ]

The other alternative that was touted for the disgruntled voter in Ontario was the 'None of the Above' party.

The fledgling party's doctrine involved electing independent MPPs who were "not bound by party control and who truly can represent their constituents first."

The party had candidates in eight ridings: their high mark was in Mississauga - Brampton South earning only 1.5 per cent of the total vote.

Party leader Greg Vezina, however, put a positive spin on the results on his Facebook page.

"None of the Above Party of Ontario gets 21% of all new votes for smaller parties and Independents across Ontario's 107 ridings - in just 8 ridings and 13% in just 4 Mississauga ridings."

What do you think?

Were the 'decline your ballot' and 'None of the Above' campaigns successful in getting more people out to the polls? Will the 'mainstream' parties take notice?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)

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