back to top

8 Surprising Differences Between Voting In The UK And In The US

In the UK, you can vote by doodling a dick on a piece of paper. Maybe.

Posted on

In Britain, you just, like, stick it in the box.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Just a piece of paper in a normal box. Like this glamorous lady did on 18 December 1918, the first time women could vote in a general election.


5. In the UK there are strict rules which pretty much prevent broadcasters from discussing the election while polls are open.

It's a bit less strict for non-broadcasters like BuzzFeed.

BBC Election Guidelines: coverage restricted to uncontroversial factual accounts such as the weather; no coverage of election issues

BBC Breakfast pretending that the election isn't happening is the best thing. A guest just mentioned it and it was all 'swiftly moving on'.


I love TV and Radio having to pretend the General Election is not happening on General Election Day. It is the most British thing, ever.

Whereas in America on polling day, the media go completely hysterical, reporting every controversy, exit poll, and #Informed #Citizen's #Opinion.

CNN / Via

Here's Anderson Cooper beaming hologram into the studio on election night in 2008.

6. In the UK, if you take a selfie (or any photo) in a voting booth you can be fined £5,000 or spend six months in jail.

This is meant to protect the secrecy of the ballot. But in any case you CAN take one outside the polling station. You should especially do this if you have a dog.

In the US, the law varies from state to state.

Beyoncé shared her filled-in vote-by-mail ballot with the world in 2012, but people aren't sure if that was legal or not.


7. Campaigns get started in the US more than a year and a half before polling day.

Road trip! Loaded the van & set off for IA. Met a great family when we stopped this afternoon. Many more to come. -H

It's 19 months till the American presidential election and Hillary Clinton is already schlepping around Iowa with random babies.

In the UK, the campaign kicked off on 30 March, and everyone's voting by 7 May. That's less than six weeks.

Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

And yet everyone in Britain is complaining about how sick of the election they are.

8. In the US, candidates are under constant scrutiny for their physical appearance and whether or not they seem "presidential".

Mpi / Getty Images

Like at this TV debate in 1960, when Nixon is thought to have lost to JFK because he looked a bit sweaty.