Some 114,201 ballots were rejected in the first round of the London mayoral election, approximately 5 per cent of the total votes cast. This wasn’t because people were deliberately spoiling their ballots to protest about the fact that no one standing represented their views. After all, there were 20 candidates in the election encompassing a broad spectrum of opinion. No, it was because they didn’t understand the supplementary vote system, whereby you’re supposed to put a cross next to the candidate of your first choice and a cross next to your second. According to official figures, 87,214 of the spoilt ballots were discounted because people had voted for more than one candidate in the first preference column.
The way the system’s supposed to work is that if no candidate gets over 50 per cent on first preferences, all but the top two are eliminated and second choices on the losers’ ballots are then redistributed.