A lot of spoiled votes, in some places much more than usual

As there aren’t a lot of actual figures out there, I’ve compared the EONI polled vote figures with the BBC valid votes to try and work out the invalid votes per constituency. (The BBC numbers may not be entirely accurate so this should be taken with a health warning – for example I’ve had to exclude Foyle as it was giving a totally improbable 0.05%). On face value this election seems to have resulted in considerably more spoilt votes than usual – mainly in areas with larger republican and/or nationalist votes.

As noted, I’m bringing together official and unofficial data and doing the calculations on the back of a fag packet so feel free to correct but more importantly do not treat as guaranteed accurate until confirmed by the statistics holders – the truly awful EONI.


  • So around 11,500 rejected assembly ballots compared to a mere 7,000 rejected referendum ballots in NI!

    Processing doubtful ballots held up the first round of the count for a while in the Kings Hall. The West Belfast doubtfuls were processed in a couple of sessions, probably taking over an hour to get through.

    For the two constituencies being counted in the Kings Hall, the AV doubtful judging took over half an hour to complete – contributing to the overall delay of the result.

  • Mark McGregor


    If the above figures hold up when/if the official ones are released – it could be 3+ times as many ballots end up spoiled in 2011 compared to 2010.

    Is that a big swing to a disconnect but still voting and then deliberately spoiling? Or an indication the system left around 2% of usual voters totally bewildered and as a result disenfranchised?

  • sdelaneys

    either an element of spoiling as a tactic in republican areas or else a major difference in intelligence bewteen our ‘two communities’.

  • Reader

    sdelaleys: or else a major difference
    I see you had no takers with that bait. How about this one then: you can put people in a taxi and take them to the polling station but you can’t watch them vote.

  • Actually, in both Ards Leisure Centre and Belfast City Hall I saw lots of papers with 3 Xs instead of 1, 2, 3 – all for the DUP. Now they have got voter management a bit better, they have to teach their voters how to vote in an STV election.

  • sdelaneys

    Reader; ‘you can put people in a taxi and take them to the polling station but you can’t watch them vote’.

    That is very true but in no way attempts to answer the question as to why there were far more spoiled votes in republican/nationalist constituencies than in unionist ones.

  • lamhdearg

    Reader answers the Q by implying that more people are coerced into voting in nationalist constituencies, and spoil their vote as a protest.

  • pauluk

    No, no, no, guys! You need to be more explicit and stop pussy-footing around.

    Don’t you see? It’s the result of 90 years of Unionist discrimination against Nationalists in the Six Counties.


  • sdelaneys

    lamhdearg; ‘implying that more people are coerced into voting in nationalist constituencies, and spoil their vote as a protest.”
    I had noticed that implication but thought that reader would hardly be implying nationalists/republicans are both cowardly and stupid in greater numbers than unionists. Surely anyone coerced into voting would more likely vote directly for those who oppose those who done the forcing rather than simply spoiling therir vote.

  • lamhdearg

    I at first typed compelled (meaning by others) not coerced. “cowardly and stupid” No, but more likely to be taxied or bused to the polling station (by people they dont want to get on the wrong side off), when they would rather be doing something else. As for voteing for the other side, maybe some do, but for most thats a step to far.

  • Reader

    I hadn’t thought to tread (too heavily) on any toes. I had also thought the taxi reference was a bit of a giveaway – after all SF is proud of their efforts to get the vote out, and several comments on Slugger have referred to multiple visits before and on voting day.
    I just wondered if that sort of activism might have negative consequences on occasion; as reluctant voters are pulled away from TV for an hour.

  • Reader

    By the way, it might also be worth seeing if the proportion of spoiled ballots is correlated to the % turnout in any way. The blue graph hints that there may well be a correlation, but doesn’t correct for constituency size.

  • JR

    Two brothers of mine spoiled their votes. They are disillusioned with the SDLP and still can’t bring themselves to vote Sinn Fein. Both long time voters first time spoilers in South Down.