Voters taking selfies inside polling stations on Thursday could face a fine or even jail, electoral chiefs have warned.
Pictures posted on social media from inside stations could breach electoral law which protects the “secrecy of the ballot.” In extreme cases it could mean a fine or a possible prison sentence, the Electoral Commission have confirmed.
Anyone who inadvertently reveals how someone else votes in Thursday’s elections could face a £5,000 fine or six months in prison.
When the BBC pressed John Turner, chief executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators on how he interpreted the law, he said taking a selfie and not showing it to anyone before polling stations closed would probably be within the law, but if they took a picture of the ballot paper “and rushed outside and put it on Facebook” they would be risking prosecution.
The Electoral Commission advice for polling station officers regarding selfies is;
The law relating to obtaining information in polling stations and disclosing such information is complex. Given the risk that someone taking a photo inside a polling station may be in breach of the law, whether intentionally or not, our advice is that you should not allow photos to be taken inside polling stations.
You should ensure that all polling station staff are aware of this guidance. You might also want to consider displaying a notice inside polling stations to make clear that photography of any kind (including photos taken on mobile phones) is not permitted. You may also want to consider whether you will allow the use of mobile phones at polling stations and whether to have signs explicitly prohibiting the use of mobile phones inside polling stations.