There’s been huge rows over people taking #indyref voting selfies - and we got the definitive answer on the legality of it from the Electoral Commission - but what if you want to take a selfie in the voting booth on September 18? Is that legal?
Yes. Kind of. Most definitely. Maybe.
We asked the Electoral Commission for specific rulings on this and they pointed us to Mary Pitcairthy, the Chief Counting Officer who said:
“While it is not necessarily a criminal offence to photograph a completed ballot paper either at home or within a polling place, it is strongly discouraged as it could violate the secrecy of the ballot, which is fundamental to the integrity of the process.”
The Electoral Commission Scotland then pointed us to the Electoral Commission Report (May 2014, Page 38)and the Referendum Act 2013. These basically say, don’t be disruptive (Schedule 7 Subsection 13) and don’t break the secrecy of others when voting (Schedule 7 Subsection 7).
So, in essence, it’s legal as long as you aren’t disruptive, noisy or including others.
But what’s the best way to tell the world how you’ve voted? (And remember, it’s only your vote you can share – you can’t take pictures or ask others how they voted.)
SIX STEPS FOR A VOTING BOOTH #INDYREF SELFIE
- Before going into the polling station, turn the sound and flash off on your phone camera. Some people would be very nervous at the sound of a camera clicking when they are in a booth
- Ensure you take a photo of only your own ballot paper without the ballot paper number visible (it’s on the back), or if in an enclosed polling station only capture yourself and the voting paper
- Don’t be disruptive – if asked to stop do so as you could be ejected and banned from re-entering the polling station
- Once you have taken the photo put your phone away and don’t take out again until you leave the polling station
- Respect your fellow citizens, think – would you feel comfortable? If not, don’t do it
- Do not ask others if you can take a picture or a video of them voting
WHAT YOU CAN’T DO IN THE VOTING BOOTH
The Ice Bucket Challenge. Just don’t.
By Kenny Murray. Kenny is Weber Shandwick’s Digital Assistant.