Several people have asked me about the number of spoilt ballots in the Cambridgeshire PCC election on Thursday. The numbers were announced at the same time as the results, and while there were significantly more than in most other elections, the total was still pretty small. Here is the graph:
The red bar here shows the proportion of “rejected” ballot papers in each district. There are many reasons why a ballot paper might be rejected, but it’s safe to assume that the
vast majority of these were deliberately spoiled by the voter. [Update: Comments from people who were at the election count say that there were quite a few rejected ballots that were unintentionally spoilt, though most were spoilt deliberately] The highest proportion was in Cambridge, with 4.6% of papers rejected, but this is still only one for every 22 valid votes cast. The rate across the whole county was 3.2% – about one for every 31 valid votes.
These numbers are a good deal higher than in most elections – for example, the rate in the last Cambridge local elections was 0.6% – but they are still dwarfed by the huge numbers of voters who simply stayed away from the polls:
Overall, while there were certainly more spoiled papers than usual, the story of the 2012 PCC elections was one of overwhelming voter apathy – across the county, people staying away from the polls outnumbered those spoiling their ballots by 175 to one.