General election 2015: Five things you probably didn't know you could do in a polling station
The 2015 general election is upon us. Polling stations opened at 7am for what is being billed as the most unpredictable poll yet.
Google has marked the occasion - expected to be the closest election in a lifetime - with a Doodle on its homepage. It shows the second letter 'g' as a ballot box covered in the Union Flag beneath a voting form and a pencil.
The BBC has compiled a handy guide to the dos and don’ts for prospective voters ready to cast their ballot. Here are five unexpected ‘dos’ for those voting in UK polling stations:
1. You can vote while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
But you can’t be disruptive about it. If you are, you will be asked to leave and return when you have sobered up and are willing to behave.
2. Technically, you can take a selfie at the polling station
But it isn’t advisable. Photographs could land you in trouble if they reveal how someone else has voted, the unique identification number on the ballot paper or any information “obtained in a polling station”.
The Electoral Commission has issued the following guidance on taking photographs: "Due to the potential breach of the law, intentionally or not, we strongly advise against any form of photography taken inside a polling station.
"However, if a voter would like to highlight their participation in the elections, we suggest this is done outside the polling station before or after they vote." In pictures: Experts' predictions for the General Election - 03/05/15
3. You can bring a pet with you
Voters in some constituencies arrive on horseback to cast their vote. Dogs are also welcome, providing they are brought in an “accompanying” capacity as opposed to being allowed to roam freely. Other animals are at the discretion of staff at the station.
4. You don’t have to cross your ballot paper
Technically you could mark your box with a tick instead of a cross if you so wish, as long as you make your voting intention clear on the sheet.
5. You can tweet about voting - BUT ONLY AFTER YOU LEAVE THE POLLING STATION
You are free to reveal how you voted outside of it. Revealing who someone else voted for or how they are about to vote is illegal.
And here are f ive things you can't do in a polling station.
Visit the Electoral Commission's website for more guidance on voting at polling stations.
Independent News Service