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Is it practical to protest the same sex plebiscite, being held in Australia, using the ballot itself?

I've heard people advocate glitter bombing, but I assume it'll mainly result in the people involved in tallying the results being inconvenienced, and that the level of glitter bombing won't be measured, and therefore it won't be an effective protest method.

Are there any protest vote methods that are unlikely to be interpreted as accidental, and are likely to be quantifiably measured?

  • Are you sure you want to be accurately measured? I would think if you wanted to be accurately measured you would just vote. Elected officials in my experience tally phone calls and letters on issues and give weight to the results. – user9389 Sep 22 '17 at 6:56
  • It depends on what you want to achieve. If it's to make yourself feel better then it's very practical; just write your feelings on the ballot paper. If it's to publicly show dissent without any effective change to the result then glitter bombing will probably get column inches and maybe the odd court appearance. If you want to actually affect the result then that's a different matter. – Alex Sep 22 '17 at 9:00
  • What is the difference between a "plebiscite" and "referendum"? I had never heard of "plebiscite" before, but the definition seems the same as referendum? – user11249 Sep 22 '17 at 11:58
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    @carpetsmoker Australia uses the names to differentiate between binding votes on constitutional changes (referendums) and votes other matters. – origimbo Sep 22 '17 at 13:30
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    I find it unclear what you are trying to achieve here. I'm not sure what you mean by "effective protest". If the aim is to disrupt the count, I don't understand why official measurements should be a measure of an effective protest. If you want something counted, go and vote. If you want to protest, go wave a placard. – James K Sep 22 '17 at 18:27
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The wikipedia page about "Glitter bombing" seem to have two meanings, I assume you are going for the "fill the ballot envelope with confetti" one.

In general, messing with the ballot means that those votes would be counted as null votes. As such, it is unlikely that the Australian electoral organization will provide a detail of the reasons of those votes being null, so there will be no direct report of the effect.

Of course, usually accidental1 null votes are a small, fairly constant fraction of the votes cast. A significant increase of that fraction would be easy to spot and, since it seems that there is only one side promoting a boycott, it would be reasonably to think that most of the difference is due the campaign.

Then again, it would not count in the official results and such tactics convey a clear message that the proponents of those measures believe that they are going to lose the voting.

Is that effective? Depends of what the message is. If the message is "We are against this measure" then voting "No" is a more direct, measurably, effective solution. This kind of measure -as calls for boycott/abstention- are usually used to signal a "We do not accept the existence of this referendum/I will not feel bound by anything coming out of it" message that is not available in the ballot.

Additionally there is a legal angle specific to glitter bombing: most jurisdictions do not take it kindly when people or organizations attempt to disrupt the electoral process, and someone caught trying to introduce strange objects2 in a ballot box could3 find themselves in a bad legal situation.


1Someone marks more candidates than possible, etc.

2Since ballot envelopes and the ballots themselves are usually rather thin are thin too, it would not be too hard to notice some people introducing ballots stuffed with too much contents.

3IANAL and IANAA(ustralian)L, but I think it is a reasonable possibility. Another question is if people encouraging other people to break the law could be prosecuted, but that would be off-topic and way more specific.

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