Blank vote: is it counted in the 2024 European elections? How to vote blank?

Blank vote is it counted in the 2024 European elections

Blank voting could be an option for many French voters during the European elections this Sunday June 9. Five years ago, more than 550,000 blank votes were counted.

In France, blank voting is possible. But be careful, counting blank votes does not mean that they will actually be taken into account in the result of the election. The blank vote is equivalent to an empty envelope or a blank ballot. These ballots are considered “votes not cast but counted separately”. By voting blank, a voter expresses his desire to participate in the democratic debate and the 2024 European election, but without identifying himself with the candidates who are presenting themselves. Which is fundamentally different from an invalid ballot, more akin to an error on the ballot, such as a false name, or a drawing for example, in place of the candidate’s name. In fact, the blank ballot has no weight on the outcome of the election. This blank ballot was tested for the first time during the 2014 European elections.

In accordance with the text, the current “recognition” of the blank vote simply implies that “the blank ballots are counted separately and annexed to the report.” They are made “special mention in the results of the ballots” but they do not appear among the votes cast. Unlike the nominal ballots for each candidate, blank ballots are not officially provided by the polling stations. Therefore, voters who wish to use them must bring them with them. Article 1 of the 2014 law provides that “an envelope containing no ballot is considered to be a blank ballot.” Furthermore, article L.49 of the Electoral Code stipulates that “the distribution of blank ballots by individuals is prohibited on election day.”

If many candidates will be feverishly awaiting the results on the evening of Sunday June 9, the blank vote could also be one of the big “winners” of this election. For several years and vote after vote, the progression of the blank vote has been evident in France. Now registered in the register and therefore present in the results provided by the Ministry of the Interior, blank votes are growing sharply. In 2019, more than 555,000 blank votes were counted during the last European elections, or 4.57% of voters.

Is the blank vote planned to be taken into account?

The question of counting blank votes regularly comes up in political issues as the elections approach. After many years of discussions without results, a step was taken in 2021. If neither the government nor French institutions have seriously looked into the issue, the abstention rate which continues to increase with each election calls into question causes the legitimacy of elected political figures. A February 2021 bill notes that through abstention “the people mean that they no longer have either the voice to revolt democratically, nor the sufficient power to fundamentally change the course of our history.”

This is a first step but France is still far from effective recognition of the blank vote. The bill presented in 2021 nevertheless deemed the recognition of the blank vote as “urgent and imperative”. If the law of February 21, 2014 provides in its first article that blank votes “are taken into account for the determination of the votes cast during the first and second round”, the February 2021 bill goes further and suggests that new electoral rules are established “in the event of failure to obtain an absolute majority”. The bill, however, was not adopted and is still at the proposal stage.

What are the latest scores for the blank vote in the elections in France?

In 2019, during the last European elections, 555,033 blank votes were counted. Which still represented 4.57% of voters. During the second round of the presidential election, in 2022, 2,228,044 voted blank, or more than 6% of voters who went to the polling stations.