When Malawi went to the polls in the first ever Tripartite Elections on May 2014, there were 12 candidates competing for presidency. While others might have felt that the number was too high, but on the other side it gave the voters a wide array of choices.
But now, spare a thought of the touted echelon to democracy in the world, the US. As Americans go to the polls on November 8 they are faced with two major options; the Democrat, Hillary Clinton or Republican, Donald Trump.
Nomination of the two candidates within their parties was not without controversy and drama. For Hilary some Democrats never wanted the former first lady back in the White House as that would have been building a fiefdom. His email server issue was also a point of concern to some factions. Off course other dissenters had elements of chauvinism. Against odds Hillary still made it and became the first woman to accept presidential nomination for the Democrats.
In the Republican camp, Trump made it to the nomination podium outwitting all smart Republicans despite their machinations to stop him at the convention. However, the dust is refusing to settle. Still some factions among the bourgeoisie of the Republican Party still don’t want Trump. Some have refused to endorse him, while others are petitioning their party to stop funding his campaign.
Now come the polling day, Americans will have to choose between Clinton or Trump. Have you ever wondered what would happen to Republicans who don’t like Trump for presidency? They will have to love the party and still vote for Trump, or vote for Clinton, “spoil the vote” on any other Third Party candidate who is unlikely to win, vote for no one by not marking on the ballot paper or just boycott the elections.
This also conversely applies to Democrats who would not want to have Clinton sit in the Oval Office.
This dilemma is not to the US alone. Many voters around the world face this dilemma because the design of the ballot paper does not give an option for abstinence. Some studies have also shown that this is one of the cause of null and void votes in jurisdictions where voting is compulsory. Some people will go to vote just to fulfill the legal requirement that they have vote. But since they do not have a favourite candidate or they dislike all the candidates on the ballot paper, some will just leave the ballot paper blank and throw it in the box. During counting such votes are counted as null and void despite being an expression of dislike of all candidates on the ballot paper.
Other countries have come up with a solution to the scenario. The ballot paper has provision whereby a voter can mark to show they don’t like all the candidates who are contesting. During counting such votes are not considered as null and void but are counted separately as valid blank votes. If the law requires that a candidate to scoop 50 percent plus one vote of the total valid votes cast to get a seat, these blank votes are included in the computations. The voter’s right to express dislike for all candidates is counted as valid and not declared null and void.
With this approach it would be possible for Republicans who don’t like the free-speaking Trump to vote against him without voting for Clinton. The same applies for Democrats who don’t want a repeat of a Clinton at the White House. Unfortunately this has not come to America yet. They are stuck with the two candidates.