Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Abstained Votes

Abstention from voting is a form of exercising one's right to vote. When someone confirms that they are abstaining from voting, it means they are voting neither for nor against the motion at hand. Nevertheless, they are still taking part in the elections, but have expressed neither approval nor disapproval for a particular candidate, party or motion. An abstention vote is not always a pre-planned decision during elections. However, one can consciously cast an invalid vote, for example by voting for an option not included on the ballot paper. By doing so, the ballot paper is not counted towards the official election result.

Further formats of abstained votes

Aside from ticking the box on a ballot paper next to 'abstain', if this is in fact possible, there are two other forms of abstention, namely active and passive abstention. Active abstention still involves the voter participating in the election through either submitting a blank ballot or an invalid ballot paper. On the other hand, passive abstention simply means the voter doesn't participate in the election at all.

See also: Alternative Vote, Invalid Votes, Election Campaign, Voter Turnout


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