Matt Gillow: why we’re backing a ‘none of the above’ option

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By Managing Director Matt Gillow

Throughout the past few months, we at TalkPolitics have come to the sad conclusion that the issues that provoke feelings of apathy run deeper than we previously thought.

We aren’t talking about simply a lack of political education, or a failure to make Westminster accessible (though these are important factors,) but a deeper, general disillusionment with our entire political party system.

As I wrote in the New Statesman this week concerning spoiling my ballot in protest at the options available, I received an unanticipated amount of support, from many who are considering doing the same; from those who will go into the polling booth, look down, sigh and tick the ‘least worst’ option.

Of course, many do believe strongly in the major parties on offer. TalkPolitics isn’t advocating for an overthrow of our existing party system. However, we believe strongly in the argument that people didn’t die for a right to vote just for us all to blindly vote for a candidate we don’t believe in. Indeed, it is essential that we allow those who feel disengaged with politics, or not represented by any of the parties on offer, to have their say at the ballot box, rather than forcing them out of our system and disenfranchising them.

That’s why TalkPolitics is advocating for a ‘None of the Above’ option at the bottom of each ballot paper, rather than those who spoil ballots getting counted whether intentional or accidental. If a None of the Above option (already implemented in many Universities for student committee elections) gained a significant proportion or majority of the vote, then a re-run would be mandatory, with different candidates.

Our political system is growing tired. Introducing a NOA option won’t eradicate apathy and the issues with our civic culture – but it goes some way to providing a voice to those (who are many) who feel disenchanted with the options on offer.

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