Scores of voters in Chester and Ellesmere Port are reportedly taking their own pens to polling stations over fears the cross on their ballot papers could be rubbed out if they use the pencils provided.
After weeks of bitter debate and heated arguments over Britain’s membership in the EU, ‘pencilgate’ was the last row anyone expected on polling day.
With conspiracy theories of a ‘rigged’ referendum rife on social media, dozens of voters in our region have urged others to take their own pen to mark their ‘X’.
The conspiracy theorists seem to imagine that someone somewhere armed with an eraser will be rubbing out votes and changing them.
Some Leave campaigners have suggested voters should avoid using pencils so they don’t get caught out by an apparent MI5 plot.
The bizarre claim by some Brexit backers has some worried, but the Electoral Commission has been quick to put people’s minds at rest.
Some people have even suggested people should press extra hard and carve their cross in pencil to ensure it can still be seen if it is erased.
How will you be voting?
0+ VOTES SO FAR
Pencils - per tradition - are provided at polling stations, but there’s no legal obligation to use them.
Using your own pen is perfectly acceptable. But be warned, if the ink smudges, your vote could be invalid.
You can even - theoretically - mark your ballot paper with a tick rather than a cross if you prefer, so long as your voting intention is clear.
RELATED STORY: When will we know the EU referendum result?
Twitter users poked fun at the drive to ‘bring your own pen’ saying that claims the vote could be rigged were ‘ridiculous’.
An Electoral Commission spokesman said: “By tradition, pencils are available in polling booths for voters to mark their ballot papers. If a voter wishes to bring their own pen and use that, it’s fine.
“In regards to security, at the count there are statutory observers to make sure that they are carried out correctly. Campaigners are also invited to observe the counts taking place.”
What do you think about this story? Let us know in the comments below: