Opening the Opaque Blank Box: An Exploration into Blank and Null Votes in the 2018 Walloon Local Elections

Jean-Benoit Pilet, Maria Jimena Sanhuza, David Talukder, Jérémy Dodeigne, Audrey E. Brennan

Résultats de recherche: Contribution à un journal/une revueArticleRevue par des pairs


In this article, we propose an in-depth exploration of blank and null ballots in the recent 2018 local elections in Wallonia (Belgium). In the official results, both blank and null ballots are merged together and are classified as invalid votes. After obtaining the authorization to access genuine electoral ballots, we study the votes which were not considered for the composition of local councils in detail. The data‐ set is a representative sample of 13,243 invalidated ballots from 49 Walloon municipalities. We first describe how many of these invalidated ballots are blank and how many are null votes, as well as the nature of the nulled votes (unintended errors or intentionally spoiled ballots). Second, we dig deeper into the differences between ballots that have been intentionally invalidated by voters (blank votes and intentional null votes) and ballots non-intentionally invalidated. Our results show that most of the ballots (two-thirds) are null ballots and that among them, half areunintentional null ballots. Finally, we show that contextual (socio-demographic and political) factors explain the variations in intentional and unintentional null votes across municipalities.
langue originaleAnglais
Pages (de - à)182-204
Nombre de pages23
journalPolitics of the Low Countries
Numéro de publication3
Etat de la publicationPublié - déc. 2019

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