How to lose an election

In Scotland in 2007 the government changed hands because of unclear instructions on how to complete ballot papers.

Experts predicted trouble but politicians pressed on regardless. Many voters misread the instructions on the ballot papers. Some voters completed the ballot papers as they had in previous elections. A total of 147,000 ballot papers (4%) were spoilt and rejected. In some constituencies this resulted in a majority for some political parties. 

The governing party was defeated by a single seat. The 4% of destroyed ballot papers could have led to a different result in the election. 

Source: Oxford guide to plain English by Martin Cutts, Oxford University Press   

By Michele van Eck 

She has a BComm in business management and law, as well as an LLB and an LLM. With specialized qualifications in corporate and contractual law, Michele writes for De Rebus and has co-authored articles for TSAR (a journal for South African law). 

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