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It being election day in the UK, there's plenty of memes doing the rounds about various aspects (and myths and misinformation) about voting on social media.

One that has raised its head again is the question of photography while voting, specifically of one's own ballot paper.

Is it against the law to take photos of ballot papers?

I did find an article from the Mirror from 2017, which references a Tweet by the Electoral Commission claiming that it could be a violation of the Representation of the People Act 1983 Section 66. I can see some points about it being illegal to communicate information on the polling card, which a photograph shared on social media would seem to fall under.

Does this mean that anyone sharing a photo of their ballot paper on social media is breaking the law?

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Staff at polling stations have been told to stop people taking selfies - even though it is not against the law.

The Electoral Commission fears the craze for taking self-portraits on phones and posting them on social media threatens the secrecy of the ballot.

Anyone who inadvertently reveals how someone else votes in Thursday's local and European elections could face a £5,000 fine or six months in prison.

Staff have been urged to put up "no photography" signs in polling stations.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-27486392

Its not illegal to take a photo of your own ballot paper, it is illegal to reveal how someone else voted without their knowledge. Thats where Section 66 of the Representation of the People's Act comes into play.

This law hasn't been updated since the 2014 BBC article, so the articles claims about lawfulness are still valid.

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  • I am not sure it needs to be someone else. Section 66 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 says "3. No person shall— (b) otherwise obtain or attempt to obtain in a polling station information as to the candidate for whom a voter in that station is about to vote or has voted;" and it is not clear to me that the voter has the freedom to display or send a picture of their completed ballot paper to others.
    – Henry
    Nov 16, 2023 at 11:04

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