X OR 😊?

Even the UK Electoral Commission is catering to millennials

Good news, pal.
Good news, pal.
Image: Reuters/Neil Hall
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Britain is busy at the polls today (June 23), deciding whether to remain in or leave the EU.

The BBC has this handy run-down of how, where, and when to vote. It includes advice on whether you can answer today’s rather momentous question with a smiley face instead of the recommended X on the paper ballot you are handed. The UK Electoral Commission, it seems, is catering to the young:

The Electoral Commission says the best way to make sure your vote is counted is to mark an X in a box. But a smiley face or anything which is interpreted by a returning officer as an expression of preference “must not be rejected if the voter’s intention is clear”, its guidance to Counting Officers says (pdf).

In other words, 😊 is ok. Selfies, however, are discouraged, lest the secrecy of the vote be compromised. Again, from the BBC:

Anyone who inadvertently reveals how someone else votes could face a £5,000 fine or six months in prison. Consequently, you will see “no photography” signs inside many polling stations.

The advice? Play it safe: “The Commission advises it would be better to take a photo outside the polling station to use on social media.”

Indeed, the polling booth selfie is something of a risky art, one that the Dutch seemed to nonetheless master during the European Parliament elections two years ago.