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The pros and cons of spoiling your vote

Spoiling a vote as an active alternative to not participate in the election is a form of protest but can in turn help out the larger parties.

The validity of the election may be questioned if there are an unusually high proportion of spoilt votes.

In the 2011 municipal elections a total of 666 607 votes were spoilt according to results released by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

The majority of spoilt votes from the proportional representation ballots and originated from the Eastern Cape (2.57%), North West (2.37%) and Limpopo (2.17%).

In some countries, such as India, the Supreme Court ruled that the voter has the right to a “none of the above” (NOTA) option.

Although the votes registered as NOTA are counted, they will not change the outcome of the election process.

The NOTA choice differs radically from the “right to reject” or otherwise abstain from the elections.

To abstain from the election procedure means that the voter does not cast a ballot on Election Day.

An abstention may also indicate a form of protest from the individuals’ disapproval on the level of active opposition available on the ballots. An active abstention can occur when a voter votes in a way that the vote cannot be counted.

This is done by marking all the boxes and nullifying your vote. In another manner, an intentionally spoilt vote could be interpreted as an active abstention.

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