MONCTON – Anonymous signs have been appearing in the city, encouraging people to cast protest votes in the up-coming federal election.
The signs, which have the words ‘vote void’ or ‘vote blank’ on them, have been appearing beside candidate signs around Moncton. Politics professor Mario Levesque told Global News there are many reasons someone may do this.
“Maybe they don’t like their candidates, maybe they don’t like the political parties and their previous decisions they’ve taken,” he said. “Maybe they also don’t like the election system, the way it is currently set up.”
Levesque, an assistant professor at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB, added that voiding a ballot or leaving it blank is perfectly legal.
“You have the right to do this,” he said.
Elections Canada considers these types of ballots as rejected ballots. It keeps track of the number each election, but there is no distinction between the types of rejected ballot, whether deliberate or accidental.
Voting ‘none-of-the-above’ is possible in some provincial elections. Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have provisions for voters to formally decline their ballot. This number is counted separately.
Levesque said he believes the Federal election should have a similar provision, but in its absence, it’s better to lodge a protest vote, than to just stay home.
“If you just stay at home that means you’re disengaged and you don’t care,” he said. “If you go there, and spoil it, you’re saying we want better; you can do better; let’s see better before we actually want to vote for you.”
Elections Canada spokesperson Françoise Enguehard said she was aware of the signs in Moncton, and had not heard of similar signs appearing in other cities.
Isabelle LeBlanc, spokesperson for the City of Moncton, said in an e-mail to Global News that the city did not know who was behind putting out the signs.
She said that candidates do not need to ask the city for permission to post signs, as long as they follow the city by-law and “make sure that their signs do not obstruct the view or pose a safety hazard for motorists and pedestrians.” Though all election signs are not allowed on the median.