David Rodriguez fighting for right to vote “none of the above” in federal elections
In a Canadian federal election, you have a few choices for how you’d like to vote: you can vote for one of the running parties and candidates, you can spoil your vote, or you can choose not to vote at all.
Second-year Faculty of Law, common law section student David Rodriguez is looking to add a fourth option: voting “none of the above.”
According to Rodriguez, choosing to vote “none of the above” is different than spoiling your ballot, because you are demonstrating your dissatisfaction with the given candidates.
“I learned about the option to formally decline ballots during the Ontario provincial elections many years ago. I always thought that there should be a similar option or mechanism during federal elections,” said Rodriguez. “However, it wasn’t until learning more about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that I realized that the lack of such a mechanism can actually infringe on the rights of some Canadians.”
Currently, there is no formal procedure for adding a “none of the above” option to the federal ballot. Instead, Rodriguez is suing the federal government under section 2B of the Charter of freedom of expression.
His claim alleges that the Elections Act places “restrictions on democratic expression” and “prevents electors from officially expressing dissatisfaction with all of the candidates available to them in federal general elections.”
Rodriguez filled his lawsuit this past November, so it is still very early in the process. “It’s possible that litigation may go on for years,” said Rodriguez. “At this moment the government’s counsel at the Department of Justice and myself are waiting for a hearing date for a motion.”
Although Rodriguez hasn’t had much help with the process so far, outside of what he has learned through his legal studies, he is hoping to set up a crowdfunding site in order to afford a small legal retainer who can review of his work so far.
One of the main reasons that Rodriguez is hoping to gain traction with this initiative is to educate people on the level of dissatisfaction with the options on the ballot forms.
“Most people don’t realize that the number of spoiled ballots and ballots left blank are not reported,” said Rodriguez. “Students should be aware that not voting can just as easily mean ‘any of the above’ as ‘none of the above.’”
The process is ongoing and Rodriguez says that he is willing to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court.