Who to Vote For? "None Of The Above"

In Parliamentary elections, the choice of candidates is sometimes less than optimal.  There is the incumbent, and then a group of challengers from various parties.  For those voters who are happy with the specific candidates running for office, then they can happily vote for their first option.  But for those voters who are not happy with the options, they can either vote for someone whom they do not particularly like, or, they can abstain from voting.  With this present Constituional proposal, those voters can have the option of voting for "None of the Above" (NOTA).  From the option of candidates and NOTA, whichever candidate gets the most votes wins.  

If, however, NOTA wins, then obviously it must be debated what happens next.  Some options I thought about include: 

+  all of the candidates would be disqualified from the race, and there would be a 2nd election with new candidates, but no NOTA on the ballot the 2nd time;  or

+  the top person vote getter goes to Westminster, but their salary would be reduced (or no salary at all) due to their inability to obtain a majority against NOTA; or

+   the top person vote getter goes to Westminster, but they will be forbidden to run for re-election again.

I ask this group for other options too.  But whatever the consequence, their should be some form of punishment for failing to get more votes than NOTA, as they will lack any majority mandate.

 

 

edited on Jan 28, 2015 by Nicholas Charalambides

Claire Finn Apr 5, 2015

I like the idea of having None of the Above on the ballot but I'm not sure about the consequences listed.

John Z Apr 5, 2015

I like NOTA, but I am not limited to only the above options.  Any input you have as to alternatives is appreciated.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 13, 2015

In the spirit of setting general principles (and in light of similar consensus emerging on the Proportionality in Elections thread), how about the following as a clause to that:

n+1) Ballot papers for the election of members of the national legislatures shall include a 'none of the above' option. Parliament shall legislate to ensure that any seats proportionally allocated to this option are filled while respecting the rejection by those voters of the candidates and parties on the original ballot.

n+2) Ballot papers that have been spoiled shall not be recorded as a vote for the 'none of the above' option.

John Z Apr 13, 2015

Am I the only one with a suspicion that Parliament will pass legislation that is not consistent with the spirit and intent of NOTA?

Tom Austin Apr 14, 2015

I'm with John (above). "...any seats proportionally allocated to this option are" to undergo procedures laid down elsewhere with regard to the re-running of a bye-election.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 18, 2015

Can I suggest we adopt the wording I set out above? It still seems to accord with the principles that most are arguing to.  Repeat wording for reference:

n+1) Ballot papers for the election of members of the national legislatures shall include a 'none of the above' option. Parliament shall legislate to ensure that any seats proportionally allocated to this option are filled while respecting the rejection by those voters of the candidates and parties on the original ballot.

n+2) Ballot papers that have been spoiled shall not be recorded as a vote for the 'none of the above' option.

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Daniel Gaunt Apr 5, 2015

I agree with Claire (I suspect not something I'll write very often in this process...!). 

I think there are two issues to discuss here. First, should we have NOTA on the ballot paper, and second, what should happen if NOTA should win the/a/several seats. 

I'm not sure that the first issue is particularly contentious, though I'm sure there will be some who prefer the status quo. 

For the second, I see three broad options (putting aside details like whether or not previous candidates can re-stand):

  • NOTA winning the election results in it being rerun
  • NOTA winning results in the position being filled by a candidate selected via a defined process and with some kind of special status. 
  • NOTA winning is treated as a rejection of all possible candidates and results in the seat remaining vacant for the duration of the parliament.

I'd prefer the second option. It's the cleanest administratively, doesn't leave people un- or under-represented, and makes a NOTA vote a positive for something specific. 

My suggestion in the first phase was to have 'NOTA'  MPs selected by random ballot, with any such MPs barred from being part of Government or being members of a party group. I think a body of non-inscrits not subject to the Whips, as with the Lords crossbenchers, would be beneficial to the effective scrutiny of parliament. 

John Z Apr 5, 2015

Of the options that I gave above, I would choose the 1st option which is all of the candidates would be disqualified from the race, and there would be a 2nd election with new candidates, but no NOTA on the ballot the 2nd time.  But I am open to your option of "the position being filled by a candidate selected via a defined process and with some kind of special status".  What would be your "process" and the "defined status"?     

Fiona Condon Apr 8, 2015

I'm not very comfortable with this idea. If candidatres A, B, C and D stand but NOTA wins, then we have candidates E, F, G and H. If there is no NOTA, one of them will be elected, even though they didn't stand in the first round and maybe NOTA would have beaten them too it it had been an option..

John Z Apr 8, 2015

The alternative is to have an election ad infinitum until a candidate actually beats NOTA.  In the meantime, the constituents in the district are unrepresented.  I will gladly listen to alternative options, as we are in the process of refining this proposal.

Claire Finn Apr 14, 2015

I just had a thought on this. People in Northern Ireland vote for Sinn Fein for Westminster seats knowing that that means Sinn Fein candidates will not take their seats so they are effectively without representation. I don't see why a NOTA win should need to be any different. If people vote for NOTA they know there will be no representation and nobody being paid to represent them.

Tom Austin Apr 14, 2015

This is a systemic problem with the current common-disdain that Politics has for voters, and part of what we are attempting to 'fix'.

It must be best to insist that nobody - and no thing - can be held as 'winning' a Seat that does not commit to taking their place in Parliament.

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 14, 2015

I agree, Tom. If Nobody wins, Nobody should take their place in Parliament. If the voters of a constituency choose Nobody, why should they be denied their choice?

But perhaps there should be two choices: None of the Above (leaving the constituency under-represented) and Somebody Else (triggering a re-run).

I still think it's a molehill. However I look at it, I can't see it significantly enhancing representation.

Tom Austin Apr 14, 2015

Perhaps Malcolm you have been listening to 'them' too long.

Who but a UK Politician can turn the words, "choice" and "fair" into curses?

ALL choice could rather fall upon the Partys and Candidates: Do they want the vote or not?

IF they want the vote, it is for them to attract the vote, and not have the option to shrug-off the concerns and wishes of the voter, and carry-on regardless.

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 14, 2015

I thought I'd never been listening to them, Tom! You've read most of my stuff - do you really think 'they' have got to me?

Tom Austin Apr 14, 2015

Malcolm, I'm here to help.

"I still think it's a molehill. However I look at it, I can't see it significantly enhancing representation."

It does appear, perhaps only to the untrained ear of one too-too-eager to offer assistance, that you offer a similar arid, wry and disinterested take upon things 'representation' as do the 'usual suspects'. 'Jumper'-John (below), on the other hand, is alive to the possibilities.

Say goodbye Malcolm, with a hearty cheer, to the cap-doffing days of 'yesteryear', and give a mighty view-haloo for the promise of a better tomorrow.

[P.S. I am waiting for you drop the other shoe, "non-transferable debt", before I comment.]

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 14, 2015

"Say goodbye Malcolm, with a hearty cheer, to the cap-doffing days of 'yesteryear', and give a mighty view-haloo for the promise of a better tomorrow."

I'm looking forward to that, Tom, and I can see that NOTA might conceivably be a worthwhile finishing touch to the reforms which will bring it about. But, in a healthy political system, NOTA is not actually going to win any constituency. Given that we are designing a new constitution (which I presume we don't expect to incorporate all the flaws of the current one) the issue of what should be done if NOTA wins is fairly trivial. Assuming the new constitution incorporates some kind of recall mechanism there's no real reason for the constitution to say anything at all about what should happen in those very unlikely circumstances.

If you believe that the voters of a constituency bear no responsibility for the quality of candidates, then you can see it as an undeserved punishment that they would be under-represented briefly and would have to collect the signatures to trigger a recall. But, as far as I'm concerned, if there's nobody willing to stand who the voters would want to elect, that's probably because the potential 'good' candidates don't trust the constituency electorate to vote for them. As long as you and everybody else treat politics as something which is done to us, I think you're going to have to keep doffing your cap.

John Z Apr 14, 2015

NOTA means that none of the available options are acceptable, but somebody else may be acceptable;  it does not mean that the voters want nobody representing them.

Tom Austin Apr 14, 2015

You are nearer the mark John.

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Bob Stammers Apr 5, 2015

NOTA winning a seat should result in a rerun with all new candidates.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 5, 2015

Why? This could be practically very difficult in an election where MPs are chosen by STV in multi-member constituencies, as NOTA would be unlikely to win all seats. 

Bob Stammers Apr 5, 2015

In a FPTP or similar arrangement my suggestion makes perfect sense; if NOTA effectively can't happen it doesn't matter.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 5, 2015

Ah, ok. I'm kind of assuming, given the ideas that made it through to phase 2, proportionality of some kind rather than FPTP is a given. 

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Nicholas Charalambides Apr 5, 2015

Thank you all for your comments! This idea directly links to the type of electoral system we have, and the Electoral Reform Society's idea on proportional electoral systems proved to be, by far, the most popular idea.

Could we continue the discussion on the possibility of implementing NOTA under the assumption that we will be calling for the implementation of a proportional system.

As to which system in particular, the discussion on this matter will be kept to the aforementioned Electoral Reform Society's idea: https://constitutionuk.com/category/2844#/post/79624

Many Thanks!

Daniel Gaunt Apr 5, 2015

While this is to a significant degree dependent on which electoral system is chosen, I disagree that it should be wrapped up into that one. I do agree though with the principle of combining discussion on fundamentally similar ideas into single threads. 

How we  deal with NOTA is a specific issue and I think merits specific consideration. 

Nicholas Charalambides Apr 5, 2015

Hi degauntier, I chose that thread in particular as it seemed the most related to the idea at hand - could you perhaps suggest a better one? Currently, I have also asked ideas regarding party lists to take discussion to the Electoral Reform Society's post. Perhaps I should instead conflate party-lists and this current idea?

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Daniel Gaunt Apr 5, 2015

No, I think that party lists are a subset of the electoral system. 

My issue is that NOTA is separate. If compulsory voting had not been knocked out I'd combine it with that, but otherwise I think it stands alone (maybe with spoiling the ballot). 

Nicholas Charalambides Apr 5, 2015

Good point you raise there. Though as you have mentioned, this discussion will have to continue with the assumption that a proportional system will be adopted, which I will make clear in my edited comment.

Tom Austin Apr 8, 2015

Oh, it has just been pointed out to me, your requirement that this be considered in light of PR, so it probably best for me to leave you all to it.

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Claire Finn Apr 5, 2015

I don't like any consequences that mean if someone loses an election they can never run again. That seems quite undemocratic.

John Z Apr 5, 2015

The 3rd option above is to not run for "re-election";  that does not forbid them to re-run ever again, just not the next term.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 7, 2015

I agree again with Claire - we have always had a situation where anyone (except those specifically excluded) can stand for election. I'd be uncomfortable with a situation where individuals were banned from standing - it should be up to the nominators in the relevant district to determine who can stand. 

 

John Z Apr 7, 2015

The 3rd option above is NOT my preference.  But if it were to be the one chosen, it would not be a permanent ban from re-running, just not the most immediate election term.  Also, the nominators now are the party leaders (my post in the 1st stage for a Primary Election was rejected);  if the voters already rejected a candidate with NOTA, then someone new should get a chance.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 7, 2015

I'd disagree with even that restriction. Nomination is not a binary choice (open primary or party leadership) and none of the major parties in the UK currently have their candidates selected by the leadership. If those nominating still think their candidate is right for the job, they should be entitled to renominate the same person.

John Z Apr 7, 2015

But that possible restriction in option 3 above is not my top choice.  The option I am promoting is option 1.  You mentioned you like option 2 with the " position being filled by a candidate selected via a defined process and with some kind of special status. "  Can you build on this?

Daniel Gaunt Apr 7, 2015

My preference here would be for the NOTA space to be filled by someone selected by ballot from the wider electoral roll. This removes the need for the election to be rerun and ensures that the voters have appropriate representation, but respects the vote of those who chose the NOTA option.

In terms of special status, I would see the 'ballot' MPs restricted from joining or being a member of a political party or grouping, effectively creating a group of crossbench MPs. They would be unable to form or join the government, and would generally be expected to abstain in confidence motions, to prevent them being responsible for the downfall of the government. I would also have them being given priority for membership of select committees, reflecting that as NOTA members they have a special scrutinising role.

How this plays in relation to their employment generally is a matter to be ironed out in the detail!

John Z Apr 7, 2015

But will that limit the effectiveness of the MP, thus detriment the constituents?

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Nicholas Charalambides Apr 8, 2015

Just to summarise discussion so far -it seems that we are all in favour of NOTA being on the ballot paper itself. What we are disagreeing with is what the consequences of NOTA actually being the majority choice are.

Perhaps to focus our discussion, we should first agree on whether, in the case of a NOTA victory, we should then have a re-run of the election, or not. Once this is a agreed upon, we could then move into the finer details of what would happen.

I'm also keep to bring more people into the discussion - so for those I've tagged, it'd be great if you could weigh-in with your opinions!

Daniel Gaunt Apr 8, 2015

I vote no to a rerun. It prevents people being un- or under-represented, and saves time and cost. The option I put forward above also makes NOTA into a positive vote for an MP bound to act independently  and contribute to the effective scrutiny  of Government rather than according to party loyalty. 

James Doran Apr 13, 2015

An instant run-off might prevent the problem of having to hold a repeat election.

John Z Apr 13, 2015

An instant run-off between who?

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Rob G Apr 8, 2015

As I voted this proposal down in the first round, I'm a little reluctant to step in now, but here goes...

If we're assuming a proportional electoral system, what happens will depend partly on how large the constituency is. If we end up with an Additional Member system, that would actually mean two different results, as there are two different systems there.

If there's a single-member constituency, None of the Above must mean precisely that - in a re-run, none of the above should be allowed to stand again. (degauntier, does your proposal not remove the voters from the process of selecting their representative? Having dismissed the entire list of candidates in the first round, my involvement comes to an end?)

In a multi-member constituency - I think both in list elections and in STV, although I'm thinking this through as I write - what happens if NOTA comes 3rd in a 5-member constituency? Presumably, 2 members are elected straightaway, but are all other candidates, including those who came 4th and 5th, debarred? Logically, that should be the case. But in a re-run for the 3 seats, Party 1 and Party 2 are likely to top the list again, and gain two more seats - even though they didn't manage that in the initial election. Should the results of the first round be taken into account somehow in deciding the results of the re-run? (degauntier, would that not lead to 3 of my 5 representatives not having been voted for under your proposal?)

I just cannot devise a mechanism in which NOTA can have more than "moral" standing - "you may have been elected, but you were definitely the second choice", at least in multi-member seats.

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John Z Apr 8, 2015

The MP winning under NOTA will have the opportunity to win the voters over in his or her 5 year term, and possibly achieve victory in the next election term.  Today, MP's (like most politicians) take the voters for granted, the hope is that NOTA results in better candidates and better MP's.  I also unscientifically suspect that a good number of MP seats would be NOTA seats. 

Daniel Gaunt Apr 8, 2015

Nicholas has already asked us to keep this discussion to NOTA in reference to proportional systems, so I'm basing my comments on that. 

In STV, I'm not aware that there is a suggestion that MPs elected 'later' in the count are lesser MPs than those elected before them. In that respect, NOTA becomes just another MP - but one whose name and position is unknown at the time if election. The rest of my suggestion is a practical way of making MPs elected this way a) useful and b) palatable to those who have rejected all the other options put before them. 

Rob G Apr 8, 2015

AMS involves both single-member and multi-member constituencies, and I'm not sure that STV has been settled on as the form of PR to be introduced. But as you say, the issues are even more acute in multi-member systems.

I agree that ordinarily the fact that Candidate A and Candidate B obtain more votes than Candidate C doesn't mean that Candidate C is "lesser" where three (or more) MPs are to be elected. But if "None of the Above" is to mean what it says, if the total for NOTA comes in above any candidates, how can those candidates claim any mandate at all? At the very least, they shouldn't be able to take their seats until the "missing" member is chosen...

Daniel Gaunt Apr 8, 2015

Because that is  a fundamental misinterpretation of what it means to be elected in a proportional system. NOTA doesn't have a greater or lesser status than any other MP, so there is no reason for others to have to wait. Indeed, to do so would give excessive weight to NOTA voters over those for other candidates.

If you reelect a single candidate however you end up with the NOTA vacancy filled by whichever is the majority party (STV for a single candidate effectively becomes AV). This is why I favour a representative drawn at random - it respects the rejection of the unelected candidates, while ensuring that NOTA voters are properly represented. 

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Malcolm Ramsay Apr 8, 2015

As things stand, if the majority of voters choose Tweedledum, that's who everyone else has to put up with. So, if a majority of voters choose Nobody, the simplest option would be to treat that as a valid choice and leave the constituency unrepresented. Otherwise there's no price to pay for making that choice.

If the new constitution is going to include some kind of Recall mechanism, then that might specify a lower threshold for constituencies which have elected NOTA.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 8, 2015

I'd have a real problem with leaving people underrepresented (it's unlikely they'd be unrepresented, given the strong support for proportionality). So I disagree with leaving a seat vacant. 

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John Z Apr 8, 2015

Definitely no vacant seat.  The voters cannot be punished even further for having the misfortune of bad candidates.  

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Claire Finn Apr 14, 2015

I agree. I would imagine most people voting NOTA probably would prefer nobody representing them to being forced to validate another option. It also gives it the potential of being a real protest vote. If people are really fed up with politicians they could return no MPs!

Tom Austin Apr 14, 2015

What, really, are people 'protesting' about, in any given context: war, poverty, student fees etc. etc.?

It is surely that 'their voice goes unheard', and so it is sure to carry-on unaltered, unless & until we (the people) have actual standing in the arena of Politics...oh wait, shall we not be Citizens...shall we not be Sovereign under this Constitution?

Claire Finn Apr 14, 2015

We have no idea for what specific reason people might vote NOTA. I don't see there being much point to having NOTA available if when the case arises that NOTA wins, voters will be forced to accept the second runner up - in what ever way that second runner up is decided. That's what all these other "post-NOTA winning" ideas sound like to me; just different ways of deciding the runner up. How does forcing voters to keep voting until someone "acceptable" is chosen improve voters' "standing"? People should have the right to say; No, I don't want any of these this term. Then maybe someone will stand next time who does listen.

Tom Austin Apr 14, 2015

"People should have the right to say; No, I don't want any of these this term."

Fine, let's give that a go.

Why do (do, mind you, not, 'might') people vote for either of the big-two Partys: family tradition, to try and stop the other winning, what else? The hours of child care on offer? A (temporary) cap on Utility price-rises? And so on.

It must be clear however, that in the majority of seats the first two reasons above are the most likely; these seats are 'safe' seats, one way or the other.

Why not then conclude that all marginal seats are marginal seats because the voters there cannot make-up their minds: Is there any real difference between pot-luck and NOTA, to your mind? Why not then do away with all such seats? Or have the election decided on one result; there is always one 'bellwether' seat, after all if the voter's not content with what's on offer...they can then lump-it.

Then of course we have the get-out clause: "Then maybe someone will stand next time who does listen." So folk can carry on voting (once every five years) for NOTA, because, let's face it if the folk do not like any of the candidates, why turn-in to vote at all, and not being represented is pretty much the same as being represented (and it would be) so why should anybody bother to vote?

For, as you say Claire, All the Political Partys have to do is send 'deaf' candidates, or not to canvas, not bother with phone-in shows or save even more money by not fielding a candidate: that'd show them pesky voters what-for. ha!

But, what if the candidates and their Party's knew from the get-go that if they did not 'try' to get votes, did not offer something the voters wanted, that they would have to pay another (and another and another) deposit and go through re-run after re-run; each time the turnout diminishing, each time the few that turned out voted NOTA, and on we go again, what then?

What would happen to 'maybe' in: Then maybe someone will stand next time who does listen. (?)

Claire Finn Apr 15, 2015

You seem to be missing the whole point of NOTA, Tom. Voters should be free to protest the whole kit and caboodle just as those who elect Sinn Fein for Westminster seats do, knowing they won't sit.

John Z Apr 15, 2015

That raises a new issue entirely;  how many voters of NOTA want another person not on the ballot to be MP, and how many voters of NOTA actually want no MP representation at all.  But the latter violates "taxation without representation".

Tom Austin Apr 15, 2015

[Generally speaking, Malcolm is correct. NOTA 'winning' a seat is a bit of a red-herring.]

For me, this notion of 'NOTA' is just one way of getting the 'mandate' to matter: At present if 1, 3 or 5 people vote, just as long as one candidate gets more than the rest, everything just carries on as if there is no underlying problem. I am not after getting 'new' faces on the Ballot Paper, but rather to have politicians, and their Party, scramble to offer Policies that chime with a majority.

What NOTA may be able to accomplish is to get everybody out and voting.

 

Claire Finn Apr 15, 2015

But the latter violates "taxation without representation".

Yes, well, pity we can't NOTA the first part of that as well!. :-) If you all had voted through my taxation should be voluntary proposal ........

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Tom Austin Apr 8, 2015

Point Three - NOTA has its votes counted as per Point Two above.

Point Four - If there is no clear-mandate, election re-run and re-run, ad-infinitum. [Not in any way to encourage that such a thing be done, but to emphasize the power of the voter.]

Point Two - There should be a requirement for a 'Mandate' - a winner MUST have 50%+ of the votes cast.

Point One - Absolutely no such thing as a second-class MP, or a vacant seat.

John Z Apr 8, 2015

+  I disagree as to election ad-infinitum, as that may result in a vacant seat (either for a short period of time or perhaps even indefinitely) if no person obtains a majority OR if NOTA keeps winning

+  I don't believe in a majority of 50% + 1 is required, but rather who wins the most votes

 

Tom Austin Apr 8, 2015

Well John, we are again going to have to agree to disagree.

I feel I must view these matters through the lens of Buyers Market. Hence, those who cannot win-over 50%+ of 'their' voters does not deserve to go forward.

John Z Apr 8, 2015

I believe this is the first time in this project that we are disagreeing.  I understand your point, but in a multi-party system, it is difficult to obtain 50% + 1.  In such a scenario in which 50% + 1 is required, what will happen if no person obtains that?  That may raise a similar question to NOTA.  Will there be a run-off election between the top 2 vote getters?  New candidates?

Tom Austin Apr 8, 2015

I'm not big on Party either John. I'm big on 'Policies'. Yet, even with the number of Partys we have today, under FPTP, only one of two will form a Government.

John Z Apr 8, 2015

True, it will either be Conservative or Labour for a Government.  But as for an individual district, what would you propose occur under the current system if the top vote-getter for MP does not achieve 50% + 1?

Daniel Gaunt Apr 8, 2015

50%+ is predicated on a FPTP system. In a proportional system, practically no one is ever going to have 50% - but far more people will see their vote contribute towards the election of one of their representatives. 

How does NOTA work under a proportional system, where it's highly unlikely to reach 50% or even 30%, but could well gather the 14.3% required to achieve one seat in a seven seat electoral division?

Rob G Apr 8, 2015

The problem with anything but election ad infinitum is that you're essentially saying to the voters "As you had the audacity not to choose from our best candidates, you're going to have one of our inferior candidates imposed on you". Mind you, that's also true with election ad infinitum if everyone in from previous rounds is excluded from a re-run.

John Z Apr 8, 2015

But at a certain point, the voters need finality.  But in your hypothetical while there is election ad infinitum, would there be a interim-MP in that district so at least the voters would have representation in the meantime? 

Daniel Gaunt Apr 8, 2015

It all depends on whether NOTA is purely a rejection of all candidates, or a rejection of candidates in favour of a defined alternative. As long as the nature of that alternative is known, I don't see a fundamental problem with the latter option. 

John Z Apr 8, 2015

But in the alternative you proposed, the person selected for MP did not even run for office.  (Unless I am mistaken in the interpretation of your position).

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Mark Cooke Apr 12, 2015

I can't see how a NOTA above option can make any sense in the context of any form of multi member proportional election system.  It is better to allow voters to choose between canddates of the same party,either using STV or open lists to allow them to reject party candidates they disapprove of.

The real purpose of NOTA is to prevent dominant parties relying on party loyalties to elect unsuitable candidates.   It shouldn't be to allow dissent by voters who are unwilling to engage with the actual political choices available to them.

 

 

 

Claire Finn Apr 12, 2015

"It shouldn't be to allow dissent by voters who are unwilling to engage with the actual political choices available to them."

It's my understanding that that is exactly  what NOTA is designed to allow!

Nicholas Charalambides Apr 12, 2015

Just to add some comments of my own on the discussion points raised so far:

Firstly, concerning needing a majority of 50%+1, as others have pointed out before me, it would be extremely hard to achieve with our political system starting to evolve to a multi-party system, which will only be further fragmented upon the introduction of a more proportional electoral system.

On the possibility of leaving seats empty, I'd agree with those who have said we cannot punish constituents for simply being lumbered with unattractive options for election. In addition, a sort of 'second-class' of MP would also be to the detriment of constituents, and I believe they should be able to come to an eventual choice on an MP with all the traditional powers.

Thus, comes the problem that we have been discussing of elections ad-infinitum which we somehow have to circumvent. One suggestion from some of the various NOTA lobby groups is that in the case of a NOTA win, the second-placed candidate would take the seat on a temporary basis (different proposals range from 3 months - 1 year) and given the chance to prove to their constituents that they are capable of governing effectively. After this 'probation' period is up, the next by-election would put the current temporary incumbent to the test and if NOTA won, the process would repeat once more.

While this wouldn't completely circumvent the problem of elections ad-infinitum, if the by-election is placed 6 months - 1 year apart, it would lessen the impact of repeated elections. However, I understand that this will 'flout' the democratic mandate of NOTA if it wins, in that the second placed candidate still gets to govern, albeit temporarily.

I'd question though whether this could be seen as a necessary evil? The alternative, of having no representative to handle affairs in your constituency, would likely be more detrimental than having a second-placed option take temporary power. 

It would be great to hear people's opinions on this potential structure!

Tom Austin Apr 12, 2015

It may well be that I am alone in sticking by the notion of bringing about something of a sea-change in the very nature of Elections within the UK, by encouraging there to be more of a 'Buyers' market with regard to 'votes'. Nevertheless, this is where I stand.

On the 'ad-infinitum' point. Any Constitutional requirement that in certain circumstances elections shall be re-run puts the onus upon those who seek votes to develop policies to attract the voter.

Voting is by no means to be seen as a mere convenience The entire Political process IS for the exercise of popular power - supreme power under the Constitution, and not for the convenience of Party or Politician.

John Z Apr 12, 2015

Clearly, the potential of a constituency having no representation is NOT an option I would support;  that is a definition of "taxation without representation".  My concern with an annual election until a candidate gets more votes than NOTA is that the "interim-MP" may spend more time electioneering (as opposed to legislating) due to the on-going elections.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 15, 2015

This is why I keep coming back to a randomly selected, 'jury' candidate. It addresses under-representation, it meets the principle that this rejected by NOTA do not take the seat, and it doesn't create some fudge where we have 'inferior' MPs acting as interim (although we would end up with an equal-but-different class of MP). The 'jury' option becomes a positive vote for NOTA (which can then be distinguished from a spoiled ballot), complemented by the fact that we have some real people in Parliament focusing not on being part of the government, but properly scrutinising and holding it to account. 

Tom Austin Apr 15, 2015

I like it. It maintains sufficient 'threat' to the larger partys, but might more be accomplished, from the point of view of the disgruntled voter, by a local-'independent' standing - either on a 'scrutineer' ticket or [Danger! Self-promotion] through some form of 'running manifesto' notion that I have spoken of?

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 15, 2015

The problem with this 'jury' candidate is that, if it says 'None of the above' on the ballot, voters might not understand that they are actually voting for some unidentified representative. I might be totally wrong on this but, personally, I doubt voters who are explicitly rejecting known candidates would be happy with someone randomly chosen, who might be more UKIP than Nigel Farage or more green than Caroline Lucas. My view is that, if they're going to get a mystery candidate, the ballot paper should make that clear.

Daniel Gaunt Apr 15, 2015

Then it could. It would be easy enough to make that clear - the ballot already gives a description and address for each candidate. You could include something like the following:

Seats won by None of the Above will be represented by an individual drawn at random from the electorate. 

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Malcolm Ramsay Apr 12, 2015

I can't help feeling this particular mountain is actually a molehill.

If something's going to be locked into the constitution I think there needs to be a high degree of confidence that it's the best option. From the discussion above, I'd say it should be left to Parliament to determine the details of what should happen on those (probably very rare) occasions when NOTA wins.

John Z Apr 12, 2015

Actually, the aftermath of NOTA could be answered in one sentence, it's just a matter of coming up with the answer.  I'd rather not leave it to Parliament, as they may legislate that "even if NOTA wins, the top person vote-getter becomes MP";  in that scenario, NOTA is pointless.

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 12, 2015

Parliament might well legislate for that, John, but that wouldn't make the option pointless. It would still have symbolic value and any MP in that situation would probably be very unhappy with their status – not least because they would quite likely be reminded of it, by MPs on the other side of the house, everytime they opened their mouths.

Parliament will at least be able to change to a better option fairly easily. Put an unsatisfactory option in the constitution, however, and it could need a referendum to change it.

John Z Apr 12, 2015

An MP will always be criticized by the party opposite, and they will generally be supported by their own party (despite their status due to the loss to NOTA).  As for voluntary change by Parliament, why would MP's sacrifice their own self-interest/self-preservation by changing the rules to their own detriment.  If it is not forced upon them, change will not occur. Thus not only do we need NOTA, but we cannot leave it to Parliament to decide the aftermath of NOTA;  it should be in the Constitution. 

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