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Polling stations and pencil

(88 Posts)
Symbollove Thu 12-Dec-19 12:49:31

Ok I am probably being odd, but why do polling stations have pencil to cast your vote, I don't like the idea of pencil can be rubbed off. Am not saying that will happen. But why not just have a pen? If I knew I would've taken a pen with me. Also the pencil I used was in dire need of sharpening, I went at 7.30am so not like an awful lot of people used it.
I can't remember if it's always been pencil but just occurred to me this morning when i voted

delineateddelinquent Thu 12-Dec-19 12:51:15

The ink can leak or smudge and spoil a ballot paper.

Simples grin

WhatchaMaCalllit Thu 12-Dec-19 12:55:44

There is nothing stopping you use a pen to cast your vote, but ink will run out and can dry up.

More info here -

lisasimpsonssaxophone Thu 12-Dec-19 12:57:41

Pencil is actually longer lasting than ink and doesn’t run/smudge even if the papers get wet. I read a good article about this a few years ago.

I always press my pencil down really hard though so it can’t be rubbed out! grin

22Giraffes Thu 12-Dec-19 12:59:15

I always take a pen wink

Tangfastics Thu 12-Dec-19 13:03:35

If you use ink and it smudges then your ballot paper might not get counted.

ElBandito Thu 12-Dec-19 13:11:19

There are easier ways to rig an election than spending time rubbing out pencil marks (which will usually leave some type of mark anyway no matter how careful you are) and then making a new mark.

Seeline Thu 12-Dec-19 13:17:09

Part of the duty of the person running the polling station is to check pencils and resharpen if necessary.

Pens run out and dry out over time. Pencils last for years.

Equanimitas Thu 12-Dec-19 13:41:38

You can't rub out a pencil mark without leaving traces.

cwg1 Thu 12-Dec-19 13:43:07

<nerd alert> What kind of pencils are they? I've always had the very vague idea that they're indelible pencils i.e. not lead (I know they're really graphite) pencils.

BuggerOffAndGoodDayToYou Thu 12-Dec-19 13:51:15

The whole process is very carefully monitored. There really isn’t an opportunity for someone to erase and change your vote.

Puzzledandpissedoff Thu 12-Dec-19 13:52:15

Apparently most of the stuff comes from here ... even the stubby pencils grin

PixieDustt Thu 12-Dec-19 13:52:54

I always take a pen aswell

StarbucksSmarterSister Thu 12-Dec-19 13:54:17

I think they're indelible pencils. The whole "they'll rub them out" thing is utterly absurd.

PlomBear Thu 12-Dec-19 13:54:19

Commenters on the Daily Mail are convinced voting is rigged because of the pencils. 🙄

cwg1 Thu 12-Dec-19 13:54:25

Eek!! Should have googled first!! They're definitely NOT indelible pencils, which aren't a good thing - toxic dyes. Though it explains why people in old/historical novels used to lick pencils(!)

MarySidney Thu 12-Dec-19 14:00:47

Pencils last for years

It has always been pencils. And always the same pencils - ever since my mother took me with her when she went to vote when I was a small child. I was quite put out a few years ago when my polling station had new pencils, because they weren't the same!

Pencils can be put away and brought out again at the next election. Pens will have dried up.

Topseyt Thu 12-Dec-19 14:08:02

It has always been pencils. Doesn't bother me really. I just make sure I put a good firm cross in my chosen box.

flouncyfanny Thu 12-Dec-19 14:11:37

I used to be a presiding officer for elections.

The pencils are lovely!
Please stop with the mistrust/hatred of them.

You get enough stubby ones (with the hole drilled for the string) in theory to last the day.
You get a couple of "normal" sized ones too.
You have to keep re-sharpening them.
They are quite black/dark so i doubt very much anyone could get a rubber and remove your x and put it in a different box without actually destroying the ballot paper.
You also get issued with string, scissors, tape, drawing pins and a pencil sharpener.
You used to get sealing wax and matches too shock but the new ballot boxes have a small plastic plug which seals them.

I still have a few odds and ends (i used to rescue them from the black bin sack at the end of the day).

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Thu 12-Dec-19 14:16:24

Pencils are more environmentally friendly too. Think about the amount of single use plastic supplying pens would create.

Also the stubby pencils are easier to hold if you have stiff hands.

maddy68 Thu 12-Dec-19 14:25:08

You can use black biro but ensure it doesn't smudge

mencken Thu 12-Dec-19 14:29:01

the paranoia of those who live in a functioning democracy...

after I went to vote today, I went to the post office to send my cards. I'd written the envelopes with what I thought was permanent ink. Some of the writing was smudging, silly me. A pencil is a good idea.

Justaboy Thu 12-Dec-19 14:29:05

Its PARKING not pencils can't get anywhere near the damm place, ought be able to do it online nowadays!..

ellalina Thu 12-Dec-19 14:39:43

Bit random, but I’m now imagining the amount of germs these ballot pencils are carrying, by the close of play tonight...hmm

PineappleDanish Thu 12-Dec-19 14:44:56

Ah, the old rubber conspiracy theory.

Because we haven't been running elections for years with total transparency. And because there is quite obviously a team of secret elves hiding inside the ballot boxes with a rubber to change your vote, given that they're under the eyes of people at all times. hmm

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