When Carlos asked me to substitute him on the day of the elections, I hit him straight with the question, who he would vote for. He lived in the States for a good couple of years and the answer was Mickey Mouse.
Honestly, I thought he meant the other guy not the President being in office. But actually, he didn't.
His comment on being terrified of these septuagenarians (the word he actually used), which has all to do with their cardiac and other plausible health issues, didn't alarm me as I imagined Mickey (in fact I was thinking more about Donald Duck) being below seventy. Perhaps his vivid personality and skin colour made me have such an assumption.
However, Carlos would have deliberately written Mickey Mouse on the ballot. This way he could have also cast more than just his choice of candidate, but all he has to say about the electoral or political system essentially. This latter came to me after a little digging into cartoons and general elections.
Do you remember as a child, when you didn't like something, you acted like..a child, exploding from inside as you take offence at something ridiculous; throwing your food around the table and hitting it with your spoon; stomping your feet as if you were hysterically treading grapes; scream, shout, yell, whine or simply cry for people are not doing as you want them to? I don't remember either, but keep the little angry kid on the front burner for a moment.
Though elections still often seem to be preposterous in my eyes, the past decades made me understand that the vote I can cast is important. It represents my opinion. Should I refuse to practice my right to vote, I shall keep my criticism (affliction, whining, treading grapes) for myself.
I don't recall the days when a choice of parties was virtually non-existent (I was less than 10 when in 1989 Hungary became a republic after 50 years of Soviet oppression). I do remember there were less choice of chocolate and candies in the stores (not necessarily a bad thing). But I was about to go into something else.
What do you do when you feel the same heat rumbling in your veins as you were a toddler, your toy taken away and you put into bed? You go tweeting..(sorry not sorry).
Seriously, how do you express your resent of the system? Start a party or a civilian movement, march peacefully on the streets with banners and flags, write a blog and spread the word; what would you do?
How to say no?
A protest vote is a form of demonstrating disapproval of the choice of candidates or the electoral and/or political system itself. Below are a few examples.
‘Abstention’ is basically not going to vote. However, voting is compulsory in several countries (Belgium, Egypt and Peru amongst others) where it is generally a clear declaration of dismay against the candidates or the system.
A ‘Spoiled vote or ballot’ is one that has not been marked (blank or null ballot) or one that has been marked or defaced, deformed in a way that makes it invalid within the given electoral system.
‘None of the above’ (also ‘against all, scratch’) is a choice on a ballot, to show dissatisfaction with the candidates. In 1991 Boris Yeltsin (first President of The Russian Federation) has said that the NOTA “helped convince the people they had real power even in a rigged election, and [it] played a role in building true democracy.” Amongst other countries that include NOTA as an option are Bulgaria, India and Spain.
‘Due to the Spanish voting regulations (legislación electoral española), the blank ballot (voto en blanco) is recognized as 'none of the above' (voto en blanco) but has very little chance to influence the distribution of seats within a democratic election.‘
‘Beginning with the 2016 presidential election, Bulgaria introduced a 'none of the above' option, which received 5.59% of the vote in the first round and 4.47% in the run-off.’ (More than half of the registered voters had cast a ballot in the elections.)
‘The origins of the ballot option "None of the Above" in the United States can be traced to when the State of Nevada adopted "None of These Candidates" as a ballot option in 1976.’
‘On 27 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the right to register a "none of the above" vote in elections should apply ...In the 2014 general election, NOTA polled 1.1% of the votes.’
‘When "None of the Above" is listed on a ballot, there is the possibility of NOTA receiving a majority or plurality of the vote, and so "winning" the election. In such a case, a variety of formal procedures may be invoked … or it may have no effect, as in India and the US state of Nevada, where the next highest total wins regardless.’
Well, I seem to be a little lost in the details, as I only wanted to share some of what I’ve found out about the choice Carlos would have opted for.. ‘Write-in votes may also indicate protest voting; in the United States, Mickey Mouse has historically been a popular choice.’
However, there is more to it: ‘A write-in candidate is a candidate whose name does not appear on the ballot but seeks election by asking voters to cast a vote for the candidate by physically writing in the person's name on the ballot. Depending on electoral law it may be possible to win an election by winning a sufficient number of such write-in votes, which count equally as if the person was formally listed on the ballot.
The practice of writing in a name that is not already on the election ballot is considered a practice of the United States. However, some other jurisdictions have allowed this practice.’
‘..general practice is an empty field close by annotated to explain its purpose on the ballot if it applies. In five U.S. states there are no elections to which it can apply, under their present laws.’
Some memorable events
‘In Colombia, the blank vote has a legal path to force a repetition of an election and a change of the candidates in that election … if the blank vote in Colombia becomes the most voted option, the elections should be repeated once and, depending on the nature of the election, the parties should present new candidates or new lists of candidates. This gives the protest vote a way to express dissent with real electoral consequences. So far, the blank vote has not been majoritarian in presidential or congress elections in Colombia, but it has already forced some elections for mayor's office to be repeated.’ (56,7% of votes were blank; Bello, 2011)
The Internet party in Ukraine, led by Darth Vader (who else?), ran for the parliamentary elections with other candidates, including Yoda or Chewbacca, for seats in the parliament; they did not succeed, receiving 0.36% of the votes. The Dark Lord himself also ran for the mayor’s seat of Kyiv, and gave a shot to become the mayor of Odessa just to be sure. In the end, the founder of the same party, Golubov (father of Leia and Luke), did win a parliamentary seat with the party of the elected President of Ukraine the same year. https://t.ly/QNyi
In 2000, Alejandro Toledo withdrew from candidacy in the presidential elections of Peru having concerns over the purity of the electoral system, and suggested that his supporters spoiled their ballots; it resulted in the near 31% of ballots being spoiled or blank.
Donald Duck has been used as a protest vote in Finland. In Sweden the Donald Duck Party, a joke political party, received 133 votes in the 2014 general elections.
The Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party, a joke political party, has received 1.73% of the votes in the 2018 parliamentary elections but no seat. In 2019, they elected four council members in four districts of Budapest.
Numerous other examples can be found; it's good to see that some people do strive to lawfully express their dissenting point of view, letting and assisting others in sharing their discontent at the same time. Even if in the end they would all be taking the mickey on the world.
And today, neither Mickey nor Donald was inaugurated as the next US President. I am curious; even though the US seems to have lost its leading global position (not necessarily a bad thing), the world just might turn a few good rounds now. I am curious; what will be the answer of my fellow teacher in four years.