With more Ontarians than ever flexing their non-voting rights, a national democracy watchdog is fighting to get those choosing “none of the above” to the polls this spring. In a letter penned to Elections Ontario this week, Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher threatened to launch a court challenge over allegations that information about declining a ballot was buried on the provincial agency’s website. Citizens who aren’t inspired by any of the choices on the ticket in the June 7 election have the right to formally forfeit their vote, and Elections Ontario will count it separately in the final voter turnout tally.
Unlike staying home or spoiling a ballot by doing things like crossing out the name of a candidate, declining a ballot distinguishes voter intent. A protest vote sends the message that someone is dissatisfied with their political options.
Ontario’s last election saw the highest number of declined ballots since at least 1975.
“Some voters may not support any party that has a candidate in their riding, or may not support any of the parties’ platforms, and they have the right to be informed by Elections Ontario that they have the right to vote for ‘none of the above’ by declining their ballot,” Conacher wrote in the letter to Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa on Monday.