Voter unhappy about marking an “X” in pencil at polling stations

A voter has complained about pencils in polling stations – claiming it leaves ballot papers open to fraud.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 02 May, 2019, 13:36

Stuart Naylor, aged 61, says polling booths should have pens, rather than pencils, and that he has complained to staff about it.

Mr Naylor, whose local polling station is Angram Bank pavilion at High Green said: “They always have pencils. I made a complaint last year and they swapped them for pens later in the day but I’ve been today and they have pencils out again.

“It leaves ballot papers open to fraud as people’s vote could be rubbed out. Staff said it was okay for me to use a pen but they should be on the counter for everyone to use. There’s such a thing as rubbers which can erase pencils, they should change to ink at all polling stations.

“I stood there for a while telling other people and they all said they had never thought about it but that I was right. When I vote, I take my own pen.”

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Sheffield Council says there is no evidence to suggest using pencils increases the chance of fraud.

James Henderson, deputy returning officer, said: “Voters may use either a pen or a pencil to mark their ballot. As long as their intention about which candidate to vote for is clear, then their ballot will be counted.

“Pencils have been provided historically in polling stations and measures are in place to stop people from tampering with ballot papers.

“The Electoral Commission has stated that the use of pencils doesn’t increase the likelihood of fraud and we follow these guidelines.”