check_circle Done

Government Government

Retain the pencil and paper method of voting

Last updated: 11:12am 8 October 2019

We will retain the traditional method of voting by pencil and paper…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.43

Our verdict

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!

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.