Believe it or not, not all Torontonians will vote January 23rd

Election Primer 010: How to NOT Vote

A quick and easy guide for the perplexed

While we here at blogTO certainly encourage everybody to vote on or before January 23rd, we also recognize that some people - be it out of lethargy, complacence, or political protest will choose not to vote. This is an examination of how to do that.

Method 1: Avoid the polling stations.
This is the non-voting method prefered by many Canadians for its ease and simplicity. There are thousands of things to do in Toronto, even in the winter, so go out and do them instead of walking the 200m to the ballot box. The Simpsons is probably on TV somewhere for most of the 12 hours that voting is on. Or you could go skating al fresco in Mel Lastman Square. Alternative, you could use the three hours your employer is obligated to give you to take a nice long bath.

While this method has the advantage of being easy, it suffers by sending mixed messages. While you may be not-voting as a protest, avoiding the polling stations just sends the message that you're lazy.

Method 2: Spoil your ballot.
In theory, it's exceptionally easy to spoil a ballot. In practice, it's only really easy. According to law, a ballot must be marked with an 'X' and only an 'X'. Anything else; a stray pencil marking, a checkmark rather than an 'X', two 'X's, anything will invalidate it. In practice though, a ballot will only be ruled spoiled if either voting intention is not clear, more than one box was checked, or it could be easy to identify who filled out the ballot. So yes, writing 'All of you losers are corrupt!!!!' counts.

While spoiling your ballot has the advantage of proving that you have the energy to walk (or be driven) the 200m to the polling station, all spoiled ballots are lumped together in the counting - regardless of if they were intentional or accidental. The politicians will have no way of telling your protest vote apart from the ballot of Bobby McStupid of Stupidville, SK, who thought you had to scribble out every politician you didn't like.

Method 3: Refuse your ballot.
This is the method that Elections Canada doesn't want you to know about (although I'd suspect if it was more publicised, voting percentages would go up significantly) because it sends a clear message that you're not happy - too many of these, and the burocracy might realise that people want change. To refuse your ballot, go up and register just like you would if you were voting, and then once they give you your ballot: hand it back. They don't get many of these (a handful each election each poll) so expect to be stared at blankly for a moment, but that will subside. When you're handing back your ballot, tell them that you're choosing to refuse your ballot - you can make a grand speech about it if you want, but it doesn't get recorded.

Refused ballots are recorded seperately from all other ballots, and send a direct message to the government that you're not just apathetic or uninformed, you're not happy with the electoral system as it stands. The main disadvantage is that nobody, minus a handful of politics geeks, knows about the availability of this method. But now you do.

Method 4: How not to not vote.
There are plenty of other ways to not vote; you could eat your ballot, burn down the polling station, or refuse to give your ballot back, to name but three. However, all of these are illegal and could land you in jail, so I wouldn't recommend them.


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