'None of the above' votes increased in Ont. election

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 6:13 PM ET

TORONTO -- "None of the above" soared in popularity in the Ontario election.

A review by QMI Agency's Ian Adams of unofficial Elections Ontario results showed that 31,399 voters declined their ballots in this month's provincial election compared to just 2,335 in the 2011 campaign.

Duff Conacher, founder of Democracy Watch, said the number of declined ballots in the June 12 election was a record high for the province.

An average of about 3,000 voters declined to mark their ballots in provincial elections with the notable exception of the 1990 campaign where just over 20,000 people sent a political message by refusing to support any of the candidates, he said.

At just over 12,000, the number of ballots left blank was also the highest since 1975, he said.

"All of the polls over the last 20 years have shown that voter turnout has dropped because of people's disgust with dishonesty, unethical behaviour, waste, excessive secrecy and unrepresented decisions by politicians and governments," Conacher said Thursday. "So people know if they vote for a candidate and a party they're not likely to get what they want even if their party wins because half the promises were likely false promises to bait them to vote for the party."

Polling also suggests some people decline a ballot in protest of an electoral system where they feel forced to vote strategically or their vote doesn't count, he said.

A voter who supports a party which does not run a candidate in their riding also might refuse a ballot, he said.

"If you spoil your ballot, no one knows if you're just not capable of marking an X properly or whether you did it on purpose ... and that's why the decline-your-ballot option is there to allow you to say more directly 'none of the above'," Conacher said.

An Elections Ontario spokesman said it is not the agency's role to speculate why a voter would decline a ballot, spoil it or leave it unmarked.


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