Dear Electoral Commission,
It has come to my attention that pencils have been used in poling stations, the mark is erasable.
Given this could give arise to fraud why don't you use and supply black pens !!
Dear Kenneth Priestly,
Thank you for your email to the Electoral Commission.
The use of a pen or pencil when completing the ballot paper is not
specified in legislation. 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. Having said this, 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. Pencils have
been used partly for historic and partly for practical reasons.
The use of pencils does not in itself increase the likelihood of electoral
fraud: while pencil marks can be rubbed out, similarly, pen marks can be
crossed out. What is key is that the integrity of the process from the
point that a voter marks their ballot paper to the declaration of the
result is maintained. To this end, the 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, candidates and
agents 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.
In our guidance we advise Returning Officers to be alert at the count to
any ballot papers with anything unusual about them and package these
separately to help with any future investigation. Tampering with ballot
papers is a serious offence and if anyone has evidence or particular
concerns that ballot papers are being tampered with, they should report
this to the police.
Please let me know if you require any further information.
Public Information Officer
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
Tel: 020 7271 0635
Fax: 020 7271 0665
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