Referendum! Offside and passable Euro polling practice
Can you turn up to EU polling station drunk, accompanied by a pet, before drawing rude pictures on the ballot paper, with your own pen, while taking a selfie?
The day we can vote in the Euro referendum is well upon us now and, for most across South Yorkshire, voting proves a very simple process.
But, if you’re more of a renegade spoke in the wheels of democracy, you might have a few more questions ... answered below.
Can I bring my spouse/partner/person I woke up with this morning?
If they are eligible to vote at your polling station, they can come in. But you have to go into the polling booth alone to fill out your ballot paper. Otherwise they’ll need to wait outside.
What about my children?
The Electoral Commission encourages parents to bring their children along to help them feel involved in the democratic process early. But they can’t vote (unless they’re over 18) and they can’t sign your ballot paper for you.
My British bulldog or French poodle?
Your canine can go into the polling station as long as it is a building where dogs would normally be allowed.
That goes for all pets.
Do I have to go to my allocated polling station?
Yes you do.
Can I eat in the polling station?
With no rules on this, there is no reason you can’t.
What about if I turn up drunk?
You can still vote. But if you’re disruptive then you may be asked to sober up.
Do I have to fill out my ballot paper with a cross?
While a cross next to your answer on the ballot paper is preferable and easiest for counters to read, a tick is also allowed. A drawing of a penis has also counted in the past.
What about a star?
While we wouldn’t encourage you to fill out your ballot paper in any way that may jeopardise your vote, marking your answer to the EU referendum question with a star should be OK.
A ballot paper cannot be rejected if it is “marked other than by a cross” if the intention of the voter to give one answer to the “referendum question is apparent”.
What about a penis?
A drawing of a penis has, indeed, been interpreted as a vote in favour of a candidate. At the 2015 election in fact.
Can I use my lucky pen?
Sure. Polling stations traditionally provide pencils but there is nothing to stop you using your own stationery.
Some people are actually quite concerned about using pencils because they fear their vote may be changed…
What if I don’t know who to vote for?
Well whatever you do, don’t start chatting about it. Political discussion is banned in polling stations. And don’t tick or cross both options because your vote won’t be counted.
What about if I fill out my ballot paper incorrectly?
You may be issued with a fresh ballot paper. But if you have already posted the incorrect paper in the ballot box, a replacement paper cannot be issued.
No autographs, please!
If counters can make out your name on the ballot paper, even if it is a signature, your vote will not be counted because you have breached the rules of the secret ballot.
And we don’t want to know what you think of David Cameron or Nigel Farage…
It may be tempting to leave an epistle to either leader on your ballot paper, but don’t – it means your vote won’t be counted.
Can I take a photo?
This is not against the law but taking a selfie has been warned against because it may risk the secrecy of the vote.
Can I post on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram about my vote?
Yes – but don’t post about anyone else’s vote. Anyone who inadvertently reveals how someone else votes could face a Â£5,000 fine or six months in prison. If you’re taking photos, the Electoral Commission advises it would be better to take a photo outside the polling station to use on social media.
Can I do any last-minute campaigning?
No. Polling station staff will ask you to stop if you decide to campaign inside or outside the polling station. And any campaign leaflets will be removed.
What if I really like my Vote Leave T-shirt?
Take it off. Clothing designed to overtly influence voters is not usually allowed at polling stations and if you’ve queued in the rain you don’t want to risk being turned away.
It’s 9:59pm and I’m still queuing outside the polling station! What should I do?
Don’t worry, staff have been instructed to ensure that all people who have turned up before 10pm are inside the polling station or in a queue outside “for the purposes of voting by that time”. Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm.
What happens if I can’t make it?
If you are unable to go to the polling station for one particular election you can choose someone to go for you. It’s called voting by proxy. The deadline has passed if you just want to nominate someone because you’re on holiday – but if you’ve had a medical emergency – you can download a form here and nominate someone to go vote for you after 5pm today.
Hang on… I forgot to register to vote!
Then you can’t vote in the EU referendum.