LETTER: Legitimize protest votes

Readers Dawn and Rick Rodman want legislation to properly record protest votes in elections.

Because there is no official means of casting and counting a protest vote in Canada, some voters, who are unable to support any of the political parties, have been unable to vote at elections. Forty per cent of Canadian voters do not vote. These non-voters are called apathetic, when this is not always the case. Many voters have legitimate reasons for being dissatisfied with their slate of candidates or political party principles, and have no options except to not vote or to spoil their ballot.

Some countries, like the US, Finland and Sweden, use a fictitious character to represent a protest vote. Others have provided a box labelled, “Against All,” at poll stations to allow for protest votes. England counts blank ballots as protest votes. A blank ballot means “none of the candidates listed.”

For provincial elections in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, voters can officially decline their ballots at the polling station. The declined ballots are counted and published. In Manitoba, you can secretly protest vote by writing the word “Declined” anywhere on the front of the ballot.

A truly productive protest vote would allow voters a ballot that categorizes reasons for not voting. For example: corruption, abuse of inalienable human rights (especially the right to life for the unborn), fiscal irresponsibility, environmental mismanagement, no constituency representation, other …

Protest votes have the very positive effect of indicating to political parties a possible social trend of dissatisfaction and the need for remedial procedure within government. Also, potential politicians learn that there are people who are not being represented, but who are eager for representation.

Even though there is currently no way to cast a protest vote for a federal election, you can still request to cast a protest vote at the polling station. They will tell you you can’t protest vote. Then hand back your ballot. They will tell you that it is going in with the spoiled ballots. Nevertheless, there are now witnesses that protest ballots have been cast. If enough disenchanted voters cast protest votes, Elections Canada and political parties will take note.

To enact legislation for the casting, counting, and publishing of protest votes at federal elections, contact Elections Canada (info@elections.ca) and your MP. Even if you support a candidate running for election, you can also support a protest vote initiative which fairly allows all Canadians the opportunity to vote at an election.

Dawn and Rick Rodman

Nelson