Mobile device users in the U.K. asked not to take selfies as they vote

mobile device selfies voter polling station

Staff at polling stations have been instructed to stop these photo taking behaviors in the booths.

Despite the fact that using a mobile device to take a selfie within a polling booth is not actually against the law, the staff members at polling stations across the United Kingdom have been told to stop voters from snapping these pictures.

The reason is that the Electoral Commission fears that the secrecy of the ballot will be compromised.

The fad of taking selfies – that is, self portrait pictures through the use of mobiles devices such as smartphones and tablets – is a strong one, but the Electoral Commission in the United Kingdom is worried that by taking these pictures, it will undermine the ballot secrecy, which is a principle that is at the very core of the democratic election process.

At the moment, there is a strong fine against revealing the way someone votes, with or without mobile devices.

mobile device selfies voter polling stationThe fine is up to £5,000 for revealing – deliberately or inadvertently – how someone else has voted in local and European elections in the United Kingdom. A guilty party could also face up to six months in prison for this action. Staff have been told to post “no photography” signage in various locations at the polling stations, to help to make certain that people know that this behavior is being highly discouraged.

There have even been some staff members who have received a bit of training regarding the definition of a “selfie” and what they should do if someone uses their mobile devices for this purpose while they are within a polling booth or standing in another place within the polling station.

An East of England electoral services manager local authority explained that “We have told staff that if they see anyone taking a photograph they should ask the person to delete it but not try to wrestle the phone out of their hands.” She also added that “It would depend on exactly what they were taking a photograph of. We have told them to take a note of the names and addresses of anyone doing it. But we would not necessarily call the police.”

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