Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Decline Your Vote Elect Some Cons!

                                                                Post updated below

The option to formally Decline Your Vote in the Ontario provincial election tomorrow has been getting  some  press, with the OttawaCitizen even giving detailed instructions on how to do it. 

It's a brilliant strategy when you think about it - getting people in a province with under 50% voter turnout in the last provincial election to think they will be making a difference this time by refusing to vote.  Activism! Stand up for your right not to vote!
And who benefits from lower voter turnout when the contest is between the Harper/Hudak/Ford TeaCon Trifecta entry vs the other guys that progressives are generally pissed at and feeling "none of the above" about?

The man behind the Decline Your Vote campaign is former Campaign Research employee Paul Synnott. 
Quick refresher on Campaign Research from principal Kouvalis :

Synnott left Campaign Research in April 2010 to launch his own company, Polisource, from May 2010 to Dec. 2011, and rolled out his first Decline Your Vote campaign in Sept 2011:
" is a New Media Solutions company focusing on conservative Canadian Politics at the Municipal, Provincial and Federal levels.

Political campaigns in Canada are subject to strict spending limits. will help you deliver your message through the Internet utilizing the latest tools in a efficient, cost-effective manner."
Getting people to suppress their own votes would definitely qualify as cost-effective.

And despite his particular dislike of Hudakery, Synnott's conservative creds are not in doubt. He has worked on conservative election campaigns in Ontario and here's his upload of Kory Teneycke's Oily the Splot attack ad attacking Dion's carbon tax back in 2008.

But here's something I don't get.
From Synnott's Decline Your Vote website :
Join us in spreading the word about the option of "Declining Your Vote"  [Us?]

We are looking for individuals in all ridings to spread the word locally. There will be simple flyers you can download and distribute in your neighbourhood or across your city or town. We will have lawn signs available to print as well as a utility to make phone calls to educate people.

Social media will be a large part of our initiative, so if you can help us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - sign up below!
The following ridings are our "Top 10" to target : [Wed night update : additional riding info in red and orange was added by me and is not in original Decline post]                                                    
Brant                                       LIB        by 1106 votes
Etobicoke Centre                  LIB        by 7960 votes
Kitchener-Waterloo               NDP     by 3748 votes
London-West                         NDP     by 3278 votes
Mississauga-Erindale           LIB        by 4258 votes
Oakridges-Markham             LIB        by 4928 votes
Ottawa South                          LIB        by 1279 votes
St. Catherines                        LIB        by 1705 votes
Windsor-West                        LIB        by 3583 votes
Thunder Bay-Atikokan           LIB        by  438 votes 
Why them? I don't know enough about local Ontario politics to know why those "Top 10" ridings in particular were chosen to elect Conservatives merit your considered and principled lack of voting. Perhaps someone out there in Ontarioland could fill me in on that.

h/t Reddit via Stephen Lautens
Wed night Update : An answer as to why those particular ridings were targeted was provided by Brian Busby and Beijing York in comments. Seems they're currently held by Lib or NDP candidates in the 2011 provincial election and 2013 by-elections, while 8 out of 10 of those ridings voted Con federally.  
I've now added this info to Paul Synnott's original Decline Your Vote list above, as per Elections Ontario
Thurs am update : More dumbass media promotion of Decline :
Windsor Star : Decline your vote ?
NaPo : Ontario Election 2014: How to vote for 'none of the above'
and a good one from Alheli Picazo : 'Decline your vote' makes no difference - with Brian Busby and Synnott in comments!


Brian Busby said...

Why target those ten? The answer lies in the differences between provincial and federal representation. Eight of the ten sent Conservatives to Ottawa, but all are represented by either New Democrats or Liberals provincially.

The two exceptions:

Thunder Bay-Atikokan, one of the few non-coterminous ridings (it's held by the Liberals).

Ottawa South, which just happens to be Dalton McGuinty's old riding (held by Liberals both provincially and federally).

the salamander said...

.. thanks.. I often forget what reptiles, jackals, dung beetles and blowflies a la Synnott & Kouvalis are drawn to the glow of the never ceasing campground election revivals of bible thumping political asshats.. plump with donated funds from dim hysterical Rapture/Economy believers.

Actually, you can turn my previous paragraph inside out & it still holds true.

ie political asshats like Kouvalis, Synnott et al are drawn to the reptile, jackal, dung beetle and blowfly politicians carping & prancing in their evangelical costumes & screeching, preaching 'Rapture/Economy' in every non subtle way

Corporatism & Rapture Evangelism merged with Reformism under Harper, Flanagan.. re-branded as the Conservative Party, then transmogrified into The 'Royal' Harper Government, and provincial political feedlots & farm systems now exist in Liberal BC (Christy Clark) Wild Ass Redford Country, Hudak Ontario etc etc and Australia

If smallpox blankets or lobotomy will facilitate a 2nd 'majority' in the next 'election', expect Tony Clement, Ray Novak, Joe Oliver, Jenni Byrne, Jason Kenney, Senator Gerstein & Fred DeLorey to ensure Kouvalis, Synnott and similar crud are well funded by tax payers, & get plenty of support pimping, promoting & distributing science based get warm, get smart TV ads & campaigns for 'Self Vaccination & Shock Treatment for the Nation'

Egad.. these conceited pompous reckless deceivers would promote polio or ebola if it could swing the vote. Hell, they fought for asbestos to the bitter end.. Now its Temporary Foreign Workers r Our Values & PTSD is frivolous & vexatious & The PM wants it tossed by the courts, along with our wounded military vets or he'll lock Canada in the bathroom

Anonymous said...

Harper's list of degenerates is, as long as his arm. Some are already in prison, others are on their way.

We just saw Wright get away with, aiding, abetting, covered-up and paid the debt for a Senator, who was stealing our tax dollars. The PMO also *sanitized* other, corrupt Senators expense claims. Therefore, the Royal Conservative Mounted Police work for the PMO and not for, the Canadian citizens. This was added to the, RCMP corruption files.

Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini were all paranoid control freaks. All of them lied, deceived, were corrupt, thieved, used dirty politics, dirty tactics and all of them cheated to win. Sound familiar? It should.

Beijing York said...

Based on the excellent Election Prediction Project site, Synott's list doesn't seem to have any particular pattern or vulnerability as a whole:

Kitchener-Waterloo is currently an NDP seat but the prediction is too close to call. London West is also currently an NDP seat and is predicted to stay NDP according to that site. And Ottawa South was McGuinty's old riding and usually Liberal federally too and is predicted to stay Liberal.

As for others on the list, Windsor West is being predicted to change from Liberal to NDP. St. Catherines is predicted to stay Liberal as are Oak Ridges-Markham, Mississauga-Erindale and Etobicoke Centre.

Thunderbay-Atikokan is currently Liberal but the prediction is too close to call.

Brandt is predicted to change from Liberal to PC.

However, if there is some roboscam at play, all those fairly certain predictions could change (no one ever guessed that Liberal incumbent Neville would lose to the CPC by some 700 votes in Winnipeg South Centre in the last election).

Anonymous said...

Alison, since you posted this early this morning, Press Progress has picked it up with some additional information and a link to you, the new non-partisan owners of Polisource have complained on Reddit about Reddit's portrayal of them, VICE did an interview with Synnott, and Synnott has responded to his critics in the Ottawa Citizen.

The key point here is still why these 10 ridings. Mr. Synnott, as you point out, is disillusioned with his Con party but can't endorse any one else so is pushing a strategy to ensure no one votes for any other party.

Alison said...

Thank you, Brian Busby and Beijing York! Have updated the post with your added input.

Salamander : ;-)

Anon@10:42 : Thanks for keeping me up to date.
Yes I figured out Polisource was under new management last night when I visited the current site and saw it advertised as "non-partisan" with Green Party Andrew Weaver posting there.
I have some sympathy for the Decline sensibility but not if used solely to suppress the vote of one's political adversaries.

Brian Busby said...

My pleasure, as always, Alison. A final update from me regarding the curious "'Top 10' to target" list.

Yesterday afternoon I had a brief exchange with Paul Synnott. You can read it here in the comments section of Alheli Picazo's latest column.

You'll see that Mr Synnott claims to have chosen the targeted ridings "as the Top 10 closest ridings based on the seat prediction." An avid reader of that site, I remember no list of that nature; I've not been able to find one either. Sadly, my request to Mr Synnott for a link has gone unanswered.

WE Speak said...

The 10 ridings were chosen from's riding by riding projection list.

They were the 10 closest races, based on his predictions. The closest races are the ones that Declining your vote could have an effect and get politicians attention. If you're a Liberal in XYZ riding and you lose to an NDP by 100 votes and 200 people declined their vote, you're going to notice.

This is not a voter suppression campaign, it's designed to get people who don't normally vote, to show up and to give an option to those who might not vote because they really don't like any party. It's a complete and utter fallacy that low voter turnout favours conservatives and high turnout favours progressives. It's been debunked many times over by peer reviewed studies. Low voter turnout favours incumbents, high voter turnout favours oppositions. Here's a good Canadian study by 5 PHD's from 3 different universities.

Brian Busby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Busby said...

Mr Synnott, you write that the targeted ridings represent the closest races as predicted by's riding by riding projection list, yet the most casual glance at same indicates otherwise. Indeed, of your “’Top 10’ to target” only Brant ranks amongst those projected by as the closest.

Of equal interest is the fact that counts four ridings currently held by the PCs as amongst the ten tightest races. You, of course, see zero.

You write that your campaign is “designed to get people who don't normally vote, to show up and to give an option to those who might not vote because they really don't like any party.” This claim comes into conflict with your previous paragraph, in which you write: “The closest races are the ones that Declining [sic] your vote could have an effect and get politicians [sic] attention. If you're a Liberal in XYZ riding and you lose to an NDP by 100 votes and 200 people declined their vote, you're going to notice.” On the one hand you write that the campaign is meant to appeal to those who typically don’t vote; on the other you suggest that it should lower the vote count for a specific candidate.

Either way, I don’t see how you can be so certain of the results. Your campaign may give us all some idea; indeed the results may prove useful to some in the 2015 federal campaign.

The peer reviewed study you cite is of no relevance whatsoever. Voter decline and the declining of a vote are two different things; it comes as no surprise that the latter is not so much as mentioned in the study.

Alison said...

"The peer reviewed study you cite is of no relevance whatsoever."

No, but you must admit it was a hilarious read!
A 2007 rework of data from the Year 2000 Canadian Election Study, which in turn was based entirely on interviews with 3,651 Canadians 14 years ago, 83% of whom identified as voters in the previous election.
The authors set out to debunk the notion that increased voter turnout would benefit the left thusly:

"We begin by disregarding the stated preferences of non-voters, as given by answers to the survey questions, and instead ascribe to them the preferences of voters who are similar to them along other dimensions. As has already been made clear, some groups in society are less likely to vote than others. However we do observe that a proportion of those low-probability voters do participate in elections. That is, while individuals with high levels of income are far more likely to turnout than those with little income, there are people with low levels of income that do vote. The same goes for other categories of low-probability voters, such as the young. Furthermore we have information on these people's vote choice. Therefore, assigning the revealed preferences of voters in different groups to non-voters in those same groups allows us to draw conclusions about how election results would have looked if everyone voted."

What an incredible crock!

Hi Paul. You must admit Brian has a point. I looked at that 308 report you linked to. There are many races in it closer in percentage points than the ones you mention on your Target 10 list. Here's an even dozen :

Barrie - Con 38/Lib 36 - 2%

Burlington - Lib 41/Con 39 - 2%

Cambridge Lib 35/Con 34 - 1%

Halton - Con 43/Lib 38 - 5%

Niagara Falls - NDP 39/Con 38 - 1%

Northunberland - Con 40/Lib36 - 4%

Oshawa - Con 41/NDP 37 - 4%

Ottawa-Orleans - Lib 44/Con41 - 3%

Ottawa West-Nepean Lib 42/Con 39 - 3%
Sudbury - NDP 41/Lib 38 - 3%

Trinity-Spadina - NDP 38/Lib37 -1%

York Centre - Lib 44/Con 41 - 3%

e.a.f. said...

None of it worked. Wynne has a majority. Hudak has resigned as leader and Horvath, ought to have. Horvath started this mess. The election cost $90M and then there was all the money spent by the Parties. Horvath didn't seem to look beyond her opportunity to become Premier. Now she is where she started and the NDP is out of a lot of money. Thank you Ms. Horvath. Leaders like her, we don't need in the NDP.

WE Speak said...

When I have time, I'll have to go back and check the date I posted the list. It was based on the 308 list that was posted at that time. Obviously it changed somewhat between what I posted and the last graphic I linked to. With each new poll he rolled into his aggregator, he published a new list. I wasn't updating the list on a daily or weekly basis. I'm not looking to debate each and every nuance of my campaign or even justify it to everyone. I'm quite comfortable with my reasons as are many of the campaign's supporters and those who know me in person from across the political spectrum. A question was asked and I've answered it. I'm proud of my efforts on this campaign and look forward to continuing it in the future such as petitioning the legislature to allow people to decline their vote in secret as voters are allowed to mark their ballot in secret.

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