Local elections 2018: What can’t you do in a polling station?


People are chair to polling stations across England to cast their vote in neighbourhood elections. But what can and can’t you do in there?

Most British people are familiar with what go to the loos on inside a polling station. You march in, possibly brandishing your counting card, you give your name and address, someone finds you on a laundry list and gives you a ballot paper.

You then head off to a booth to use your stubby pencil to chip your X.

Can you take a selfie?

There’s nothing in the law that specifically proscribes taking photos, but the Electoral Commission very strongly discourages any photography imprisoned a polling station, primarily because of complex laws about vindicating the secrecy of the ballot.

For instance, it’s illegal to reveal how someone else has sponsored, which could happen inadvertently via a sloppy selfie.

In addition, compelling a photo of a ballot paper’s unique identification number is against the regulations.

The key is a law against releasing any information “obtained in a polling station”, which is in scale to protect the integrity of the poll.

The Electoral Commission says: “Due to the potential disobedience of the law, intentionally or not, we strongly advise against any form of photography taken preferred a polling station.

“However, if a voter would like to highlight their participation in the appointments, we suggest this is done outside the polling station before or after they back up.”

Consequently, you will see “no photography” signs inside many polling posts.

There are strict penalties for breaches of the law. At the European elections in 2014, living soul were warned that they could face a fine of £5,000 or six months in brig if they revealed how someone else voted, even accidentally.

In habit, election staff might ask anyone taking a picture to delete it instead than go straight to the police. “It would depend on exactly what they were winning a photograph of,” one electoral services manager says.

Pop star Justin Timberlake came himself in hot water when he posted a picture on Instagram of himself desire support in the US election in Memphis, Tennessee – where it is illegal to take photos basically polling locations. But the authorities decided not to take any action.

  • Justin Timberlake in vote voting selfie gaffe

Can you tweet about voting?

The Electoral Commission alerts against doing it inside the polling station, even if it’s about your own ballot.

Elsewhere you are free to publicise your vote. However, as above, there are cold-blooded laws against revealing someone else’s vote, including influencing whether they leak it themselves.

Under Section 66 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 it is a baddy offence to communicate information about the way someone has voted or is about to opt – and specifically to “directly or indirectly induce a voter to display his ballot newspaper after he has marked it so as to make known to any person the name of the candidate for whom he has or has not upheld”.

Can you bring a pet?

Dogs may not be entitled to vote but they are allowed to come and babysit for – as long as they don’t disrupt the vote.

In cases where a voter has two or numerous dogs, and will struggle to control them while casting their ballot, surveying station staff may be able to hold the dogs’ leads.

But the Electoral Commission advises that while voters are salutation to bring their dogs, they may have to be left outside, unless they’re an support dog.

In recent elections, voters have tweeted pictures of their dogs controlled by the hashtag #DogsAtPollingStations.

Rural constituencies might have cases of voters jaunting to the polling station. In such instances, horses and ponies should be leashed up outside.

There is no guidance on other animals such as rabbits, ferrets or pot-bellied pigs, so any determination will be at the discretion of presiding officers.

  • #DogsAtPollingStations: Exercising paws and referendum rights

Can you wear political clothing?

People shouldn’t wear bacchanalia political clothing.

Voters dressed in party T-shirts will not be competent to enter the polling station as it may be intimidating. Political figures in the wider faculty may be fine – for instance a T-shirt of Che Guevara would be acceptable.

The onus is on buoy up people to vote.

Can I cover my face with a hoodie or something else?

Yes. It’s frankly that polling station staff are on the lookout for people trying to uphold twice by impersonating someone else on the register. But there’s no requirement for voters to screen their face.

Can I vote if I’ve been drinking?

Yes. Polling station pike cannot refuse a voter simply because they are drunk or inferior to the influence of drugs. Only if the voter is disruptive will they be bid to return when they have sobered up.

Can I wear a giant rosette?

No. The not people permitted to wear a rosette are the candidates and their polling spokespeople. The rosette must be plain and not refer to the candidate or bear a slogan.

Can I thrash out the candidates with my partner?

No. Political discussion is banned inside the recording station. Polling station staff will intervene if people are consented to be discussing the merits of different candidates or parties – it may unsettle other voters.

Neither can one ask someone whom they are endorsing for as this will compromise the secrecy of the poll. If you want to debate the pros and cons of a incontestable candidate you must do so outside.

Neither can people distribute party fliers or other literature in the polling station. Anyone seen doing so on be asked to take them outside.

Can members of the Royal Family guarantee?

Technically even the Queen could vote. But she “has to remain strictly non-allied with respect to political matters” and is “unable to vote or stand for selection”, according to the official website of the monarchy.

Can I play music?

Only if it doesn’t break in other people. If you are listening to music on headphones you’ll need to remove them when being addressed by registering station staff. They will want to confirm your bigwig and other details.

If your personal music player is playing at treble volume in the polling booth you’ll be asked to turn it down or leave. The anyhow goes for loud mobile phone conversations.

Do I have to mark my furious with a pencil on a string?

No, if you prefer you can use a pen, even if it’s your own. While a irritated is usually called for, you could theoretically mark the box with a tick a substitute alternatively. The important thing is that your voting intention is clear.

I’ve converted a mistake and voted for the wrong person. Can I vote again?

Yes, providing you haven’t already propped your ballot paper in the box. Return to the desk and tell staff what has chanced. They’ll be able to cancel your ballot paper and issue you with a new one.

I’m uptight. Can a friend come and help me?

You’re welcome to enter the polling station with a co-worker if they are also eligible to vote there. But voting is a private situation so you must be alone when you go into the polling booth.

If the friend is not exhibited to vote there then they will not be allowed inside the tallying station. If you have a disability, or are unable to read the ballot, and cannot franchise on your own, you may come with a companion. The presiding officer can also take.

Can I put a smiley face instead?

The Electoral Commission says the best way to present sure your vote is counted is to mark an X in a box. But a smiley face or anything which is figured by a returning officer as an expression of preference “must not be rejected if the voter’s intent is clear”, its guidance to Returning Officers says.

Can I bring my children to reveal b stand out them how it works?

Of course. Polling station staff are expected to be accepting to under-18s so as not to put off the voters of tomorrow.

In exceptional cases, where there are gigantic numbers of young people in the station, presiding officers have the power to ask them to hiatus outside.

If someone has several young children, a member of the polling spot staff can look after them while the parent or guardian show of hands.

Can my child mark the X for me?

A child is not allowed to write the X for an adult.

Can I write a news to the politicians?

You can but it may mean your vote won’t be counted.

There’s a tradition of intentionally spoiling your ballot. “None of the above” is one of the more polite cave in of showing you are not apathetic, just contemptuous of the candidates on offer. These chooses are included in the overall turnout.

However, if you wish to vote for a candidate you should keep away from writing comments in the margin. It might confuse the counters and lead to your against being deemed doubtful and subsequently rejected.

Can I sign my ballot typescript?

People do occasionally sign their ballots. If the name is identifiable your bear witness will not count. They are considered rejected ballots because the voter has take pleasure ined their identity and breached the rules of a secret ballot.

Signing your ballot MS was fairly common in the 19th Century when candidates would pay people to desire support for them. Under that system it was possible for the candidate to check up later who had expressed for them by looking for signatures, and pay out accordingly.

Today, however innocent the incitement, a signature renders a ballot “rejected”.

This is an update on an article written for the 2015 electing

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