Election Results and Spoilt Ballots

Labour did badly. It could have been worse, but not much. The Tories and LibDems both have something to cheer about but still, thanks in part to the smaller parties, several councils did not fall to LibDem or Tory control. Nothing indicates that Labour are obviously up for defeat at the next general election, but this should be a healthy reality check. The Greens made solid gains whilst only losing a single council seat nation-wide, their only one in Wales.

The LibDems were quite cheeky in using the war for campaigning when one considers they started with a position that they would only support the war if there was a UN resolution backing it. The resolution was not passed yet the LibDems fell in line to support the war. Not quite the opposition one might think they mean when reading some of their leaflets. Continuing on an anti-war theme the Respect coalition took a considerable number of votes away from left parties, particularly hurting the Greens in London who lost a seat on the assembly. UKIP also made significant progress in London taking their first two assembly seats.

An incredible part of the election story are the 500,000 spoilt ballots in the London elections. In the assembly elections 8.7% of the votes were spoilt. This makes spoilt ballots the fourth 'party' in the assembly elections behind the LibDems. In the mayoral contest spoilt ballots amounted to 20.1% of the votes. Still 85.27% of these spoilt ballots were only declared invalid on the second vote so the precise impact on the outcome of this is less clear. But simplistically 20.1% of the votes cast places spoilt ballots in third place behind the Conservative's Steve Norris. In 2000 22.09% of mayoral ballots were spoilt whilst 14.29% of the assembly ballots were rejected. So progress has been made in reducing spoilt ballots… especially in the face of higher turnout. Just for comparison at the 2001 General Election 0.38% of the ballots were spoilt – a much simpler voting system but interestingly low nevertheless. So were the high number of spoilt ballots in London due to intentional spoilage or misunderstanding?

I found the online guides for the London elections to be excellent, but it seems that they didn't reach enough people. As Catherine Bennett reported in The Guardian the leaflets that all Londoners did get were rather confusing. The fact that the electoral systems in London were different for each election and that they are all complicated doesn't help. But when so many people who wanted to vote are foiled by the bureaucracy of the process then we must be very concerned. Who knows what the results in London should really have been?