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  1. Politics
7 May 2015

Can I take a selfie in a polling station?

No - but they'd love you to take one outside. 

By Barbara Speed

Turns out this isn’t the social media election – it’s the selfie election. Ed took one with a hen party. David took one with One Direction. But if you’re hoping to round off the election with a polling booth selfie, think again. 

Electoral selfies are such a big problem that the Electoral Commission issued special guidelines on them last year. This is because  it’s illegal to share information on how someone is voting or their polling number under the 1983 Representation of the People Act. You could take a photo of a marked ballot paper, but if you showed it to anyone else you’d be breaking the law. 

While you could, of course, take photos in a polling station without including any stray votes, the Commission has recommended a blanket ban on photography in polling stations, just to be sure. Polling staff have been urged to put up “no photography” signs, and, according to the BBC, some were trained in “what a selfie is”. (Ironically, voters are actually encouraged to take photos outside polling stations, as this could encourage others to vote.)

If you were caught, and it looked like the photo could compromise voter secrecy, your selfie could cost you a £5,000 fine, or even a six month stay in prison. Probably not worth it for those five likes on Instagram. 

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