Our last post demonstrated four specific elements of visual bias in the Europe referendum ballot paper resulting from the recommendation of the Electoral Commission and as approved by Parliament (Statutory Instrument 2016, No 219 page 103).
It also illustrated bias in the Electoral Commission's own written proposal.
This post goes further: it points to specific similarities between the Europe referendum ballot paper and that used to secure 99.7% support in Hitler's 1938 referendum to endorse the incorporation of Austria into Germany.
Hitler's referendum was of course the act of a dictator on a roll: there was no need for any subtlety in the signals given by the ballot paper.
The Europe referendum paper incorporates some of the same characteristics but these will not immediately be obvious to the voter whose eye is drawn, for reasons not fully understood in the ballot box, to "Leave": it is therefore a fraud on the British people.
Before we make these comparisons, we illustrate what we think is a good referendum ballot paper: Scotland's in 2014. It is clear, concise (8 words to the Electoral Commission's 51) and neutral:-
We first consider horizontal bias.
In Hitler's referendum, "positive" words are within the horizontal centring line: "Ja", "Adolf Hitler", "our", "Austria", "Greater Germany":
A similar effect, as shown by the two strong red lines, is achieved in the Europe ballot paper, especially if the right margin is taken as an extension of the strong vertical line created by the two boxes and which bounds nearly all the text the voter will read. The thin blue line shows the weaker effect of taking the edge of the form as the margin:-
On Hitler's ballot paper, the undesired outcome "Nein" is pushed towards the horizontal margin. Similarly, in the Europe referendum, "leave"/"Leave" look and are much closer to the centre than "Remain" an effect enhanced by "leave" being as directly above "Leave" as the different typeface allows.
While the "Nein" is further de-emphasised by being much smaller, "Remain" as discussed in our last post is diluted by being much more entangled in surrounding text: "Leave" stands out.
Staying with horizontal bias, the Europe referendum ballot is much worse - getting on for twice as bad - as Hitler's in use of emphasising clear space to the left of the "desired" outcome. The Electoral Commission has repeatedly fail to explain this orientation:-
Vertical bias - again creating more space and prominence for the "Leave" choice - was briefly discussed in our last post and is clearly strong in the ballot paper.
Although the vertical similarities with Hitler's ballot paper are not quite as marked, there are some.
In the Hitler ballot, the star of the show is vertically centred, as shown by the strong red line. Looking at the "golden ratio" of the vertical component of the page, the desired outcome "Ja" falls on it as shown by the strong dark blue line. And the centre of the "Ja" voting circle is about 80% of the way down the page, fairly close to the centre of the component below "Ja":
On the Europe ballot paper, the centre red line effect is not as strong: however it is closer to the reference to "leave" than to "remain", and this is exacerbated by the horizontal centring as above: again, "leave" looks as though it is in the middle of the paper.
Equally the golden segment effect is not as strong: but it is closer to "leave" than to "Remain" and "leave" is prominent through its proximity.
"Leave" is about 90% of the way down the form, just about within the vertical area of the "Ja" circle and , with the adjusted right margin, in exactly the same horizontal position: although the correlation is greater on adjusted horizontal alignment there is also correlation on vertical alignment.
Our last post drew attention to four specific components of visual bias in the Europe ballot paper drawing the eye to "Leave".
UK EPP believes this ballot paper (page 103, SI 2016, No 219) is biased. All Electoral Commissioners should immediately resign.
WHICH REFERENDUM BALLOT IS CLEARER & MORE NEUTRAL? AND WHICH TEMPLATE DO YOU THINK THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION PROPOSED FOR #EUREFERENDUM?
The top format has been used in previous referendums including the 2014 Scotland referendum. The lower format is that proposed for the 2016 EU Referendum
Following publication of the required form of the ballot paper for the European Referendum (and further to our Press Statement of yesterday), Dirk Hazell, the leader of the UK EPP, has written to the appointed members of the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission to seek urgent review of the visually biased Euro-ballot paper.
“In deviating from the traditional Yes/No choice in a referendum, and in ratcheting up the 8 words on the Scottish referendum ballot paper to the 51 words on the Euro-ballot paper, the Electoral Commission has now also recklessly imposed visual bias in favour of Brexit. This must be reversed,” Dirk Hazell commented.
“We continue to believe that the Commissioners’ error is so serious that all should immediately resign: this is more like a Carry on Comrades farce than the proper regulation of a mature democracy that the British people deserve and amply pay for,” he concluded.
Following publication of the required form of the ballot paper for the European Referendum, Dirk Hazell, the leader of the UK EPP, has demanded that all Electoral Commissioners immediately resign.
“In deviating from the traditional Yes/No ballot in a referendum, the Electoral Commission over-stretched its statutory remit and must accept all responsibility,” Dirk Hazell commented.
“The ballot paper in this referendum is a matter of great constitutional significance and obviously should have been treated with the greatest care. Instead, the published ballot paper is fundamentally flawed: visual bias gives undue prominence to the ballot choice of voting to leave the EU,” he explained.
“As the Commissioners’ meddling has led to a manifestly biased ballot paper, they should all immediately resign,” he concluded.
UK EPP’s explanatory letter to the Electoral Commission will be delivered on the morning of Tuesday 8 March.
Peace, freedom and prosperity: these objectives successfully bring Europeans together as partners for a much better future after the horrors of the Second World War.
The United Kingdom fought for Europe’s freedom in Europe’s darkest hour.
The United Kingdom led again in extending Europe’s frontier of freedom on the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Europe as we know it today would not exist without the United Kingdom and the UK would not be what it is today without Europe.
The United Kingdom inside the European Union is a driver for freedom, security and, through economic openness and innovation, for opportunity for all Europeans. The best deal for Britain must be fair to all the European Union Member States and to all European citizens.
Without discrimination, it must of course respect the inviolable four freedoms underpinning our union of achievement and values. Non-discrimination and freedom of movement are core European principles.
All must recognise that the Eurozone must be free, unimpeded by veto, to progress further.
All must recognise the need to avoid discrimination between Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries and to defend the single market.
The EPP will hold true to the twin principles of subsidiarity and “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”.
We are committed to the European project as the guardian of peace, freedom and prosperity for future generations of Europeans.
We hope the UK will continue to help us to build a more competitive Europe for the benefit of all.
We hope the UK will continue to help us to complete the Single Market, cutting red tape for small and medium-sized enterprises and creating millions of new jobs.
We hope the UK will continue to help us all to be more secure.
The challenges in future will not become less. Competition with other regions of the world will become stronger, threats are increasing and we are convinced that we will only be able to defend our values and our prosperity together.
United, together, we better protect our common values and create more opportunities for all European people. The United Kingdom is the fifth largest economy in the world but the EU’s 28 Member States jointly form the world’s largest economy, the world’s biggest single market and the most prosperous continent.
We have achieved and can in future achieve so much together as partners who share the same values of democracy and universal human rights, the rule of law and entrepreneurship.
After their forthcoming national debate, we hope the British people will choose to remain as members of the EU.
The United Kingdom is stronger and more secure as a member of a European Union united in diversity. We warmly extend the hand of friendship as fellow Europeans to the great British people.
We are all stronger together.
4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP)
Promoted by M Paterson on behalf of 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP), both at Office 103, 405 Kings Road, London, SW10 0BB