Blank votes
internationally and in the UK

Jump to UK.

The Blank Vote is available as a choice in some electoral systems around the world.  It provides the voter with the option to indicate her/his disapproval with all of the candidates in an election.

Like 'None of the Above', the Blank Vote is based on the important democratic principle that public support for elected candidates is only meaningful if people also had the option to show that they did not support any of the candidates.

'Blank Vote' is established practice in Spain (voto en blanco), France (vote blanc), Colombia (voto en blanco), and in the United States Green Party.

In France, voting machines include a blank vote option.  Here the BBC reports a young man's vote in the presidential elections:…  Here are links to two French organisations for the Blank Vote: Association pour la reconnaissance du vote blanc
and Les Citoyens du Vote Blanc

In Colombia, March 2014:

'With "Voto en Blanco" emerging as a more popular candidate than at least five other presidential hopefuls, Colombians have started to pay attention to this curious option.'

In Spain, blank vote is an established tradition.  We first heard about it when a good friend in Malaga described voting blank as the most important thing she could do.  Here a campaign site responds to a doubtful citizen.  To translate, it says:

'The Blank Vote is a democratic rejection of all the current political options, with a continued belief in democracy.  It is the vote most appropriate when all the parties are corrupt, or when their intentions are not attractive, or when they breach these programs, or when they have exceeded their lawful power, or when they have perverted the system…'

How to vote 'Blank' in the UK?

The blank vote option is not provided in the UK.  Officially, British people can therefore only vote 'Yes' to the candidates on offer, and are unable to vote 'No'.  Like many people, we believe that's not good democracy.

The 2008 London Mayoral and Assembly elections set the precedent for blank votes being formally recognised and retained in results: 13,034 blank votes were cast in the Mayoral election, and 39,894 in the Assembly Member election.

In the 2016 London Mayoral election, 12,292 ballots were classified just as 'unmarked', and a further 37,000 rejected for other reasons, such as writing on the ballot paper, or voting for too many candidates. ('Mayor of London.pdf')

The problem is that with some protest votes left blank, and others with scribbled comments, the authorities are never forced to acknowledge them as clear protest votes.

As we show on the Making Protest Votes Count page, the UK Electoral Commission guidelines advise that in General Elections, blank votes and other potential protest votes be grouped together with mistakes and unclear votes, to be classified as 'unmarked or void for uncertainty'.

To challenge and change this official silencing of UK protest, protest voters need to remove the uncertainty.

Your protest vote needs to be clear beyond dispute.  So don't leave your ballot blank, and of course don't put a tick or cross anywhere!

Write NONE across your ballot paper, and put a line through all the boxes.

(This also avoids the possibility that someone could add a vote to your blank ballot.)

Protest votes will count if people vote NONE clearly, in numbers that are newsworthy.

So use your vote.

If you want a better democracy and politics in the UK, vote for a candidate you trust and want to represent you, or vote NONE in protest.