People Took Pens To Polling Booths To Stop Their Votes Being Rubbed Out

    "Are you lot fucking serious?" said one man to people who don't trust polling booth pencils.

    You might not have noticed, but loads of different elections took place across the UK on Thursday.

    Andrew Milligan / PA WIRE

    The elections are for the Scottish parliament, the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies, the new London mayor, and a bunch of local councils and police and crime commissioners in England and Wales. Democracy in action; lovely stuff.

    But just one thing spoiled this festival of democracy for some voters, and that thing was the goddamn polling booth pencils.


    Some voters, who seem predominantly to support UKIP and the SNP, believed that if they didn't take their own pens someone would erase their pencilled X on the ballot paper. Like this UKIP councillor.

    Remember when you vote take along a pen do not use pencil it can be erased

    UKIP candidate Paul Oakley is #JustSaying that you can use a pen rather than a pencil. What could he mean?

    This is how to vote in London today. And you can use a pen instead of that polling booth pencil #JustSaying #UKIP

    The "rub outable" pencil mark just is not indelible enough for some people.

    If I vote in pen not a flaky 'rub outable' pencil is that an excuse for my UKIP vote not to count?

    It's not clear who the shadowy figures who would rub out the votes would be, sometimes only identified as "they".

    Witnessed a man in the polling station aggressively demand a pen because "they" could rub out his pencil vote. This country is weird now.

    This person thinks the Tories might get involved in the rubbing.

    Anyone voting tonight use a pen and NOT the pencil they give you. tories have shown how low they're prepared to go. #YNWA

    This voter complained directly to Nigel Farage, who is suspiciously yet to respond.

    @Nigel_Farage something needs to be done about the vote in pencil or everything will be stolen. I just voted in pen but only pencils provide

    Will Homer, the guitar player for a band called As Lions, wasn't confident his vote wouldn't be tampered with.

    Went and voted today. Voting box only used pencil rather than pen. Doesn't exactly make me confident about how honest this vote will be...

    "Use a black pen," recommended this man.

    If you are voting today use a black pen. Pencil can easily be erased and your voting slip altered. Better to be safe I say !

    This voter said SNP activists were handing out pens at a polling station claiming they'd had a bad experience during the independence referendum.

    Need from Polling Station. SNP guy handing out pens since they claim pencil marks were rubbed out during referendum. Crazy #redkelvin

    Author Ian Rankin went a step further and said he had decided to cast his vote with a branding iron.

    @trewloy Everyone knows you can get ink erasers? That's why I cast my vote with a branding-iron.

    So, if you vote in the future, remember – take a pen, for goodness sake.

    Right lads and lasses. I'm off to vote. Don't worry though, I'm taking a pen.

    Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

    Contact Jamie Ross at

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