A Protest vote is a vote cast in an election to demonstrate the caster's unhappiness with the choice of candidates or refusal of the current political system. It can thus be said "conjectural," as the voter would accept other candidates in the same system, or "structural," if the voter is opposed to the whole system; usually representative democracy, but it may also signify opposition to a two-party system where "third options" are always rejected. In this latter case, protest vote may take the form of a legal vote, but instead of voting for the mainstream candidates, it is a vote in favor of a minority or fringe candidate, either from the far-left, far-right or self-presenting as a candidate foreign to the political system.
Along with abstention, which is simply the act of not voting, or of refusing to vote, it is often considered to be a clear sign of the lack of popular legitimacy and roots of representative democracy, as not voting endangers the credibility of the whole voting system. If protest vote takes the form of a blank vote, it may or not be tallied into final results. Thus, it may either result in a spoilt vote (which is the case most of the times) or, if the electoral system accepts to take it into account, as a "None of the Above" vote.
Several possible protest votes
Protest vote can be formulated in several ways:
- Voting for a minority or fringe candidate that has no chance of getting elected under standard situation (see below).
- Posting a blank ballot paper, without marking a choice.
- Spoiling the ballot paper.
- Selecting a "None of the above|None of the Above", or "Blank vote" option, if one exists.
However, some jurisdictions may give different interpretations to each of the methods mentioned above.
Sometimes, a person may use even more uncommon, often illegal, methods to show the displeasure. Example include ripping the ballot apart, asking other people to vote for them, selling the vote (for example, putting his vote on auction sites), or even eating the ballot.