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Brexit: pencils at polling stations draw fears of voting fraud
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Brexit: pencils at polling stations draw fears of voting fraud

Source: theguardian.com

Electoral Commission rubberstamps little string-tied pencils (or pens) for vote casting – as social media users fret over dirty deeds

The Electoral Commission has reminded voters that ballot papers marked in pencil or pen are equally valid, in response to concerns expressed on social media that votes not written in ink could be rubbed out and altered.

Polling stations routinely provide short pencils, attached to the booth by string, for people to mark their ballot paper with. But some, mostly pro-Brexit, voters have been urging people to bring their own pens to ensure their papers are not altered in favour of a remain vote.

The Electoral Commission has reminded voters that ballot papers marked in pencil or pen are equally valid, in response to concerns expressed on social media that votes not written in ink could be rubbed out and altered.

Polling stations routinely provide short pencils, attached to the booth by string, for people to mark their ballot paper with. But some, mostly pro-Brexit, voters have been urging people to bring their own pens to ensure their papers are not altered in favour of a remain vote.

A spokesman for Sussex police said they had been called to the polling station, in Durnford Close, by a volunteer who reported a disturbance, but that no offences had been committed and it was not being dealt with as a police matter.

Some local authorities have urged voters to use the pencils provided, with East Northants council drawing the ire of the conspiracy theorists by suggesting there were good reasons not to use a pen.

But a spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said there was no legal requirement to use either, and voters were entitled to write in ink if they preferred. “The use of a pen or pencil is not specified in legislation. Pencils have been traditionally used for the purpose of marking papers and are available in polling stations, but voters are more than welcome to bring their own pens with them.” There was no restriction on colour, she added, though “we are advising blue or black ink”. Asked if ballot papers were checked to ensure votes had not been erased and altered, the spokeswoman said all votes were verified and checked for spoiled ballots.

Other Twitter users, meanwhile, mocked the #usepens hashtag as a wild conspiracy theory.

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