My name is David Neil Thomas Harvey (I like to think of that ‘classic’ film Highlander, “There can be only one” at least that’s true on facebook) and I am standing as an independent MP for the constituency of Lewisham Deptford.
You can find out more by searching and donating to the 10p Political Project, following @HOWnotWHO and using #10pPoliticalProject wants you to question #HOWnotWHO, inform you of #Option2Spoil and suggests #DrawTheLine to create a #GameChanger idea that could cause a #RealRevolution.
My main campaign if elected, will be to include “none of the above” on future ballot papers. As a result I am target two specific groups of people. I want to reach out to those who currently do not vote because they do not feel that any specific candidate or party accurately reflects their views or they don’t have faith in the electoral process. Lets call this the Russell Brand group. The second group I am targeting are those who intend to vote, do not currently know which (if any) party represents their views, but think that they have to vote for one candidate or party. Lets call this the Joey Essex group.
The reason I feel compelled to put £500 of my own money forward (and im no trust fund baby) is because I believe that many people are mislead by ‘information’ from the Electoral Commission. I want to encourage more people to vote by promoting #HOWnotWHO as everyone has an #Option2Spoil so #DrawTheLine through your direction of “vote for one candidate only” on the ballot paper.
The Electoral Commission clams to “Put Voters First” and to support participation with “no undue influence”
Doesn’t that just sound grate! If only it were true… Before you get your ballot you are told to “vote for one candidate only… or your vote may not be counted”. While they do acknowledge in this ‘guidance’ that you may “spoil” your ballot paper, they do also imply that would be a “mistake”
Then when you get presented with your ballot paper you are told again at the top “VOTE FOR ONLY ONE CANDIDATE”
While all of these ballot papers are technically ‘spoiled’ and after they have been placed in the ballot box are known as “rejected votes” (though many commentators do still refer to them as spoilt votes) they are most definitely counted!!!
This snap shots shows a spreadsheet, produced and downloadable from the Electoral Commissions, on how many (yes they are counted) votes have been rejected in each and every constituency. It even breaks down why why each ballot is rejected into 5 easy to understand sections. Votes are rejected for: a) want of official mark, b) voting more than once, c) writing or mark by which the voter could be identified, d) unmarked or wholly void for uncertanity or e) rejected in part.
From this is should be fairly clear to see that spoilt ballots or rejected votes are counted. So to advise that they “may not be counted” is about as helpful as saying “Jimmy Savile did a lot of good charity work”. Moving swiftly on, this is where change I tack slightly. Yes I am campaigning to be elected, but lets be honest, this is my first ever campaign and I’m starting from nothing. Starting from nothing does have some advantages though, I will have ‘something’ at the end and that ‘something’ can be measured. So, despite the 12,499 majority Labour have and my expectation (and hope – I’ve got a wedding to plan) that I wont be elected, why on earth would I risk wasting £500?
Well that option of “none of the above” exists with your option to spoil your ballot. I want you to promote that idea with #HOWnotWHO. Should you ever hear anyone say “WHO are you voting for” please also make sure you let them know, it’s actually “HOW are you voting”. I would never encourage anyone to spoil their ballot if they want to support a political party, but I do expect everyone interested in the political process to acknowledge that as an option. So remember if you do want to vote for ‘none of the above’ you can do so with your #Option2Spoil and just #DrawTheLine.
A problem that you might see, is that it is unclear from these categories to know if a vote has been intentionally spoilt or if the voter has made a mistake. Fortunately for us the Electoral Commission is aware of this problem! After the 2009 Police and Crime Commissioner elections they acknowledged that people are intentionally spoiling their ballots and told us that they will investigate how this could be recorded in the future.
So as an institution that has its priority set on putting voters first, how are they doing at exploring that possibility? Below is an email I received from them earlier this year.
Hopefully you are thinking about ‘how health is our democracy?’, but more importantly for NOW, ‘how healthy is the democratic process of the general election?’ This is where statistics can actually be helpful and occasionally offer more understanding than just a number, even to those without any maths qualifications at all. The number of spoilt ballots in the 2010 general election was 0.666%, this number can hold significance to many people for many different reasons, but for me this represents less than 1% which is effectively nothing. The beauty in starting from nothing, is that any increase, even a very small amount, is easily measurable and can be attributed to you participating by spoiling your ballot. So to improve the healthiness of the general election, tell people that its #HOWnotWHO, tell people they have that #Option2Spoil and tell people they can #DrawTheLine. They might not chose it, but they must know about it! If you start from nothing and get something, you have something. How big that something is, well that is up to you. Could this be a #GameChanger, is this the time of a #RealRevolution?
In my opinion (and remember that is all it is), spoiling your ballot represents your best option of passing a message to Westminster, through the system which they use to justify their power, to say “I am not happy” (that’s the Russell Brand), or “I do not understand” (that’s the Joey Essex group). As the Electoral Commission have kindly pointed out there is know way of knowing why different people may not be happy, so a spoilt ballot is like a text message alert to Westminster. For them to know you have something different to say, you have to send that message, and just like your with your phone, for them (and you) to know what the message is, you have to say. So, if you spoil your vote, it is up to you to engage with the country and say why you did it with #GE2015 #HOWnotWHO #CrowdLeader.
If you want to help the Returning Officers (the official in charge of verifying the vote) and other Election Agents be sure that you have intentionally spoiled you ballot, the best thing to do is #DrawTheLine through “none of the above” on your ballot. Though as indicated earlier, if you do anything other than mark a cross in the box, your vote is likely not to count for candidate, but will still be counted!
The most important thing to remember is that spoiling your ballot is a legitimate, positive and effective way of interacting with the government, and will be counted.
I wrote a blog some weeks ago that referenced a psychologist who indicated how apparently “disruptive behaviour could potentially be viewed as supportive of the group” and found out about his work through a research project that I am also doing independently. The broad subject is looking at ‘How group boundaries and membership affect behaviour” with a current focus on relationship between music festival crowds and security and have just published my interim report.
My degree was in International Disaster Engineering and Management and during my dissertation I became interested in integration between Emergency Services at music festivals. This moved on to a diploma in Event Safety Management from University of Derby and a then a failed but short-listed PhD application on the “perspective of acceptable behaviour” before arriving at my final (well, more like starting) point: CrowdLeader and How do group boundaries and membership affect behaviour.
I’ve always volunteered as a means to get involved with new opportunities and learn about new experiences and have found this massively rewarding on a personal development level, but i also know how important it is to be rewarded from external sources too. As a little reward to you for making it this far, I want to tell you about my overfunding aim. My overfunding target is for £50,000. That is a little larger than my own goal of £500, but I thought if I am asking for £500 from you, may be I should try and give something back to you too! I want to give £500 to the first eligible documentary produced in each of the 100 constituencies with the lowest voter turn out. I want to encourage secondary school students and first time voters to make new social groups and talk to people in their constituency. I want to inspire (with a small bit of financial encouragement) young people to find out how engaged their neighbourhood is with politics, if any political party actually reflects peoples political views and why, if people know they can spoil their ballot paper and what people think Westminster would do if people spoilt their ballot papers. I want to find out why people don’t engage with Westminster and share it on www.facebook.com/CrowdLeader so Government can at least be told. But what happens next is most certainly still up for debate.
As already mention in a Labour seat with a majority of 12,499 I may well be the first candidate who will already conceded defeat, and think I would still be faltering myself to suggest I might get the relatively meagre target of 3,400 (5%) to not lose my deposit. What I can claim to be doing is helping some people feel able to participate in a process that they previously felt excluded from. Any extra participation must be a good thing!
Combining my overfunding aims, political ideas, research project and education, I hope you can see that while standing on a single ticket issue, I am more than a single ticket candidate.
So question #HOWnotWHO, inform of #Option2Spoil and suggest #DrawTheLine to create a #GameChanger idea with the #10pPoliticalProject that could just lead to the #RealRevolution
I look forward to sharing more ideas with you
David Neil Thomas Harvey your Independent Candidate for Lewisham Deptford