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Why do we use pencils at polling stations when we go to vote?

There is actually no legal reason why we do so

If you have ever felt the urge to rebel when you go to vote at a polling station and use a pen rather than the pencil you are provided with - then go ahead!

During the EU referendum last year conspiracy theorists urged voters not to use pencils when marking their polling card.

The hashtag #usepens trended on Twitter and people were encouraged to use pen to mark their cross on their ballot paper amid fears their decision could be altered.

However, the Electoral Commission say nothing is stopping people from using pens anyway.

When you go into the polling booth, you are usually given a pencil to cast your vote.

Here we look at the rules surrounding polling stations and its unique stationery issues:

 

In the UK, pencils are traditionally used for the purposes of marking ballot papers and are made available inside polling stations for voters to use, reports Wales Online .

Also, ink may cause some transfer of the mark the voter has made on the ballot paper when they fold it, thus potentially leading to a rejection as it may look like they have voted for more options than they are entitled to.

The Electoral Commission explain: "The use of pencils does not in itself increase the likelihood of electoral fraud. Legislation has built specific safeguards into the process, such as the requirement for seals to be attached to ballot boxes at the close of poll.

 

"By law, campaigners are also entitled to be present at that stage and to attach their own seals if they wish. At the start of the count, they can then observe those same seals being broken.

"Tampering with ballot papers is a serious offence and if anyone has evidence that ballot papers are being tampered with, they should report this to the police."

The official advice from the Electoral Commission is that it's fine to use a pen OR a pencil to vote.

There is nothing to stop a voter from using a pen to mark their vote – there is no legal requirement for ballot papers to be marked with a pencil.

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