Why I’m Spoiling My Ballot Paper


My name is Iain Richards, this is my website. I’m 20 and I live in Watford. Today, on May 3rd, I am ruining my ballot paper in the local elections.

I’m an avid voter, I’m a lover of a bit of politics, I love the whole polling station atmosphere. But honestly, I don’t know what I’m voting for this year. What does a mayor do? I have a lot of questions that will be answered throughout.

I’ll start off by saying that for only being 20 years old, I’ve voted every time since I turned 18. I’m proud of that. My first vote was Brexit, which was stressful alone without the anxiety of never actually going to a polling station before. The result has been the underlying joke of the UK ever since. Didn’t someone call Theresa May a ‘Brexit Queen’ in parliament the other day. Do MPs really have time for banter? Is that what they’re paid for?

What is the vote actually for?

I don’t actually know. At least, I didn’t know the full extent of the vote until I did research yesterday. I thought we were just voting for mayor (which is a rant in itself) but no, apparently there are these so-called ‘ward elections’ too. Don’t ask. The whole of Watford has been split into ‘wards’ and we have to vote for someone for that ward…

Firstly, I’ve no idea what ward I live in. Secondly, names on a page mean nothing to me.

“Alright, Hiratio Clementine, your name sounds fab so imma vote for you” – Iain in an Alternate Universe 2K18.

I digress, in Watford we’re voting for a Mayor and a ward person who apparently does…something…?

Google Search: What do Wards do?

2.41 millions results produced. Deducting the fact that no one goes past the first page of Google, I am left with 10.

Did one of them answer my question? Well…yes. A ‘ward’ is represented by a councillor. A councillors job is to represent that ward. The ward isn’t the person, like my young brain thought.

So how do I know the person voted from my ward is going to represent me correctly? I’ve never met them, I still don’t know what ward I’m in and there’s no signs or social media advertisements or any kind of advert that anyone my age would consume in my area. The local campaign has been a joke. Granted, I’m one out of many but still I shouldn’t be in the dark on polling day. Who are the faces behind the names on the paper…?

What does a Mayor do?

I’ve not a clue…

In Watford, we’ve had Dorothy Thornhill as mayor for as long as I can remember. Last year, in the snap election she went for the MP role with the Lib Dems. She lost. I cannot tell you what a Mayor does… Dorothy may not be the best example either, she goes to the ‘grand opening’ of anything, even a crisp packet. I relate more to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, he and his predecessor have seemed to run important campaigns for the City of London. Boris bikes, #BehindEveryGreatCity, to name a couple. I couldn’t name a single campaign that Ms Thornhill has run in Watford. I understand that London is a big city, a city for the world if you will, but surely something must have affected me the same way the Gender Equality campaign in London has? Did I miss it?

Who’s running for Mayor?

Guess what? No idea.

The names are Jagtar Dhindsa (Labour), George Jabbour (Conservative) and Peter Taylor (Lib Dem). Who? These are just names on a page right now, I haven’t really seen any publicity coming out of any of the three camps in this campaign. A chance glance at the My Local News interviews about two months ago but that amounted to nothing because the publication had to be impartial and there wasn’t enough information.

I’ve just seen the faces. I paused writing so I could look to see who they were. I’ve only gone and met Jagtar Dhindsa a few months ago! Below you can see me representing the charity I work for to receive a cheque after the Co-Operative and their members raised money for us. On my right, you can see the bearded man that is Mr Dhindsa. If I recall that day, I shook his hand, assumed he was a Co-Op Head Office person and thought nothing of it. I never spoke to him apart from a few words, which were probably, “Do you want to stand next to me? I’ll make you look really tall.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 5.13.23 pm

Sorry for the blurry picture, I couldn’t find the original copy.

Why ruin the ballot?

I could just not vote. I would understand if you said that to be honest. Someone told me, when I was younger and questioning the system, that if I ruin the ballot paper it still counts as a vote but not for any of the parties, it goes down as a messed up vote. I don’t know if there’s a technical term for it but let’s call it the ‘Iain Vote’ because that will be my legacy.



Politician’s are outdated. What are you going to do to relate to someone looking at you? What are you going to do to make the impressionable 20 year old, who doesn’t stick by one party, vote for you? How are you going to frame yourself to the young minds of the country?

The politician’s look is outdated, I beg for someone to wear a shirt, jumper and no tie into the House of Commons. I want to look at someone and fully believe that they are going to help me. This can be directly and indirectly. We all have opinions about the big topics surrounding all of politics, you can directly effect people by changing their life for the better, the same way can indirectly get someone to like you by having the same thoughts on a matter.

Taking this back to a local level, how is my town going to survive? How is my town going to support local charities? How is my town going to support the homeless? How is my town going to change the NHS to a cohesive system? How is the new mayor going to make the town hall more effective in its support for the town? There are many questions at stake here. None of which I have the answers to.

So today in the polling station, I will be drawing a massive penis and hope they listen. If you’re registered to vote but don’t know who to vote for, I suggest you do the same. After all, if all those people in the 2015 General Election who were registered to vote but didn’t turned up and made an Iain Vote it’d be enough to make me Prime Minister. Those numbers decreased in 2017 but I think more Iain Votes will change the future of politics and political campaigns not just here but around the world.

Vote by drawing a penis. Vote by picking a name. Vote in some way, please.

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