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To expect to use a pen to mark my ballot in elections?

(24 Posts)
Waitrosesaysimessential Sun 08-May-16 14:29:00

I voted on Thursday and only pencils were provided, secured by string. I am in Scotland. I have voted in other countries but always had a pen. Surely there is a risk of my X being erased? Is this the norm? Thanks

WordGetsAround Sun 08-May-16 14:30:44

Normal in 20 years of voting here.

LunaLoveg00d Sun 08-May-16 14:31:07

Yes it's the norm. The poll clerk's "kit" even comes with a sharpener.

This is the system which has been used for decades and I have yet to hear of a ruthless gang breaking into ballot boxes in the full view of polling staff and stealthily rubbing out crosses.


Doodlekitty Sun 08-May-16 14:31:28

Always been pencils where I vote (in England)

OddBoots Sun 08-May-16 14:32:20

Press hard, you can't rub out a hard pencil mark. Or if you bring your own pen you are allowed to use it.

AnotherCiderPlease Sun 08-May-16 14:33:08

Thought it was pencil because pens which are stored for a long time run the risk of not working.

Also, noone is left alone with the marked ballots, so no chance of them being changed at that point. Electoral fraud happens BEFORE the ballot is marked.

marmaladegranny Sun 08-May-16 14:33:19

However, if you have a postal vote you are permitted to vote in black ink!!!

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sun 08-May-16 14:33:37

Always been pencils for me in England.

HarrietVane99 Sun 08-May-16 14:33:46

I'm in England and it's always been pencils here. Once you've posted your ballot paper in the box, no-one else has access to it until the count, which is carried out under strictly controlled conditions. If you made your mark firmly, it would be fairly obvious if it had been altered.

fuzzywuzzy Sun 08-May-16 14:34:01

To be fair I also thought the same OP.
Was pencils where I am too.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sun 08-May-16 14:34:45

Although if we are allowed to use our own pen I might start doing that <suspicious>

FlowerOfTheWest Sun 08-May-16 14:35:21

YABU, it's totally normal to use a pencil. They are not going to run out of ink at the crucial moment like a pen might.

blankpieceofpaper Sun 08-May-16 14:36:46

It is probably more of a concern how easy it is to vote as someone else!

limitedperiodonly Sun 08-May-16 14:37:47

It's tradition, like pens on bobbly chains in banks. I'm not sure I'll ever get over Argos scrapping those miniature biros and pads for touch screens sad.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sun 08-May-16 14:38:01

Always pencils and always tethered with a bit of string.

Clearly pilfering is a problem grin

limitedperiodonly Sun 08-May-16 14:40:44

I have a stash of mini pencils pilfered from Ikea. I haven't been for ages. Have they cracked down on people like me?

raviolidreaming Sun 08-May-16 14:43:12

Yep, it's always been pencils - although my Facebook was full of pencil-related conspiracy theories after the referendum.

SavoyCabbage Sun 08-May-16 14:43:46

They have Limited. There is a place at the tills to deposit your IKEA pencil now!

Waitrosesaysimessential Sun 08-May-16 15:02:04

Fair enough! Just always used pens in the two other countries I have voted in. Yes I was also surprised that I did not have to show ID. And even more surprised that someone who no longer lives at my address is still living there according to the register smile it is ok, the lady said he will be able to vote at his new address' local polling station too. That was a relief ;) like they used to say, vote early and often

ForalltheSaints Sun 08-May-16 16:14:32

I'd prefer to be able to vote by an electronic method, but it won't happen I expect.

YouAndMeAreGoingToFallOut Sun 08-May-16 16:17:24

The logic behind pencils is that:

A) they are cheaper than pens
B) they are more reliable than pens (even in a brand new box of biros, a couple usually don't work properly. Pencils basically always work, especially when all you need to do with them is make a basic mark.
C) they are less likely to be stolen than pens (seriously, people pinch even quite crap pens)
D) we've always used pencils so that's Just How It Is.

However, I can tell you with 100% certainty that there is nothing in electoral legislation that mandates the use of pencils, or that requires you to use one. I know, I've checked.

You can take your own pen into the polling booth if you like. You can use a lipstick or an eyeliner if you like. You can do whatever you want. However, in next year's Scottish Council elections you'd be advised not to use a highlighter pen, because they count the votes electronically and the machines can't read highlighter pen, so it's a bollocks for the count staff.

I used to have to know all this shit for my old job, which is why this answer is so long!

Scholes34 Sun 08-May-16 17:14:05

I can assure the OP that the rubber thimblette I used when counting ballot papers didn't do anything to erase the mark.

limitedperiodonly Sun 08-May-16 17:39:04

That seems mean savoy. My dad used to do a lot of DIY and you weren't allowed to use his pencils. He'd use them until they were about an inch long and he couldn't hold them any more. He wouldn't use a pencil sharpener, he'd use a penknife. I think that made him feel more manly grin

Thimblette? Is that what they're called Scholes34? We've got loads of those too. DH pinched them from his last employer which was 17 years ago. It's amazing. You'd think the rubber would have perished by now. I hope you got to keep yours as a souvenir of your civic duty.

specialsubject Sun 08-May-16 17:46:23

No one suggests that the UK is perfect or corruption free, but no one is going over the ballot papers with an eraser !

Electoral fraud involves impersonation or stopping others from voting, or cock ups such as in Barnet. There is no conspiracy

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