Posted on 7.6.17
Whether its taking a selfie with your ballot paper or letting your toddler mark the cross for you, seemingly innocent actions at the polling station tomorrow could invalidate your vote or even lead to criminal charges.
Even discussing or debating the election campaign itself once inside the polling station is forbidden according to electoral commission rules.
If you ignore requests by members of staff to stop talking about the campaign then you may be asked to leave without voting.
“The rules may sound draconian, but they exist to ensure both a smooth and fair electoral process” explains Danielle Clements, a disputes lawyer at Gorvins solicitors in Stockport. “And though what you do may appear to be perfectly reasonable behaviour it can actually result in you losing your right to vote and even be subject to legal proceedings.”
Taking a polling station selfie could result in a £5,000 fine or even a six months prison sentence. If want to record the momentous crossing of a box, make sure you don`t take pictures of people in neighbouring booths as this could also result in a fine or even jail.
Playing loud music, taking a phone call or letting your child draw the ‘X’ in the box are also forbidden and could result in you being asked to leave the polling station.
Unless your child is under 18, you must be alone when you go into the polling booth. You can take your dog to the polling station as long it doesn`t disrupt the vote. Anyone with two or more dogs can ask polling station staff to look after them during the voting process.
Even what you wear could be an issue, explains Danielle Clements.
“In theory, you could be turned away from voting if you wear clothes emblazoned with slogans relating to the parties or even wearing a rosette as it could be interpreted as a way of trying to influence voters”.
The only people permitted to wear a rosette are the candidates and their polling agents.
Hoodies and burkas are permitted since there’s no requirement for voters to show their face. However you could be asked for your name and address.
As for social media, tweeting isn`t illegal.
However according to the Representation of the People Act 1983, it is illegal to publish “any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted.”
If you’ve had a drink or maybe even some drugs, you can still vote as long as the officer believes you are capable. If not, they will ask you to come back later.
More than two million people have applied to vote in the month since Theresa May announced she wanted to hold a snap general election on 8th June. There are around 50,000 polling stations dotted around the country.
Writing messages to politicians on your ballot paper could invalidate your vote. However it won`t if you mark the box with a tick rather than a cross . The important thing is that your voting intention is clear.
Adds Danielle: “Emotions clearly run high at election time. Equally, many people feel very strongly about taking part in the democratic process, that`s why its so important to know exactly how we should behave in a polling station.”