In June 2016, in the wake of the EU referendum, the British public expressed concerns about ballot votes casted with pencil being erasable. This prompted the Electoral Commission to intervene, stating that there is no legislation to require the use of pencils in voting and that pens were also admissible, as also confirmed by EU recommendations. Moreover, it underlined that “the use of pencils does not in itself increase the likelihood of electoral fraud”. According to the Commission, pencils are used mainly due to tradition and practical reasons, as ink spills on the ballot paper may invalidate the vote. At the same time, ‘e-voting’ with SMS or a touch-screen still presents secrecy and security issues due to legal and technological limitations. So, the government promised to retain the ‘pencil and paper’ method.
In September 2019, the Digital Democracy Commission started consultations on ‘Electronic Voting in the UK, to evaluate the use of internet and digital technology in voting. However, as confirmed in parliamentary questions, the government remains committed not to introduce electronic voting.
Since the general election, there has been no change to the way in which votes are written, and voters can still use pencil and paper. So, based on the pledge to ‘retain’ this voting method – and without evidence the government is proposing to change it – we will mark this policy as ‘done’.
Retain the facts!
- Is it safe to vote with a pencil? – Full Fact
- Response from Electoral Commission – What Do They Know
- Administering the poll EU voting recommendations – Electoral Commission
- Sir Eric Pickles Electoral Fraud Report – Gov.uk
- Response to Eric Pickles report – Gov.uk
- E-voting by touch-screen trialled in local elections – BBC