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Report No. 255

B. Comparative Practices

11.7. With the exception of Columbia, very few countries accept the right to reject principle. For instance, Nevada in the US506 and Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Yukon in Canada although recognising a NOTA-like option, do not let it influence the election results by counting the votes separately507 or treating them as spoilt ballots.508 In fact, in the 2014 gubernatorial elections in Nevada, the Democratic nominee Robert Goodman was elected in his primary, despite polling second after their "none of these candidates" option.509

506. NRS 293.269(2), Title 24, Chapter 293 of Nevada Revised Statutes titled "Elections" permitting the NOTC option, although only "votes cast for named candidates shall be counted in determining nomination or election."

507. Section 117(2) of the Elections Act, Manitoba, 2006 allowing voters to secretly write "declined"; Section 53 of the Ontario Elections Act, 1990, Section 107.1(1) of the Election Act, Alberta, 2000 and Sections 232-233, Yukon Elections Act 2002 providing no secrecy while allowing voters to "decline" to vote

508. Section 118 of the Nova Scotia Elections Act 2011 treats a declined vote as a cancelled vote

509. Sean Sullivan, Nevada Democrats pick 'None of these candidates' for Governor, WASHINGTON POST, 11th July 2014,

11.8. In Europe, the position is not different. Thus, Spanish law permits voters to validly submit envelopes without ballot papers, which are counted and declared as "blank votes"510 or "votos en blanco". Although they are considered valid in the allocation of seats in Spain's proportional representation system, even a majority of blank votes do not necessitate reelections. Similarly, in France and Italy, a blank vote is recorded separately from a void vote, although there is no official space on the ballot.511

510. Sections 96 and 97 of the Representation of the People Institutional Act, 201

511. Chiara Superti, Vanguard of the Discontents: Blank and Null Voting as a Sophisticated Protest, Dissertation Paper at Harvard,

11.9. In Sweden, blank ballot papers permit voters to register their protest secretly. Although the votes are considered invalid, they are counted and reported separately from other forms of spoilt or invalid votes. Thus, there is no concept of right to reject. In 2014, Russia re-introduced the "against all" option on the ballot.512

512. Tatiana Stanovaya, 'Against All' and for the Kremlin?, INSTITUTE OF MODERN RUSSIA, 21st January 2014,

11.10. Moving on to South America, Brazil with its compulsory voting provisions recognises both, blank or white votes (voto em branco) that are conscious sign of protest, and void or null votes (voto nulu) that are spoilt. However, neither is considered valid or counted for election results' purposes.513 Article 77(2) of the Brazilian Constitution stipulates that only candidates winning a majority of valid votes, excluding blank and invalid votes, will be elected. The Superior Electoral Court in Brazil has clarified that, "despite an ongoing myth, even in the event that half of votes cast are deemed invalid, such circumstances cannot render an election null and void."514

513. Articles 2 and 5 of the Election Law 9504 of 1997; Electoral Code, Law No. 4737 of 1965

514. Superior Electoral Court, 2014 Elections: elections not to be declared null and void even if more than 50% of votes cast are deemed invalid, Brazil, 28th August 2014,

11.11. Columbia is an exception to the above trend, wherein if the blank vote gets a majority (50%+1), the election needs to be repeated (only once more) and the earlier candidates in the invalidated election cannot stand again.515

515. Article 9 of the of Legislative Act 01 of 2009 states "The voting must be repeated just one more time in order to elect [most democratically elected public officials] when blank votes constitute the majority of all of the valid votes." See also the government's FAQs at

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