Where in the world would a rude drawing count as a vote?

A vote Image copyright Thinkstock

Would a rude drawing be counted as a vote in an election where you live?

They say the pen is mightier than the sword. That was certainly the case when the drawing of a penis was one of the votes that counted towards the re-election of a Conservative Member of Parliament in last week's UK general election. The incident spawned a conversation on Reddit about what voters can get away with in different parts of the world.

Here's what happened: A Welsh voter drew the phallic symbol on their ballot beside the name of local Tory candidate Glyn Davies - presumably as a protest. But it backfired when the returning officer counted it as a vote. Davies personally thanked the anonymous "artist" on his Facebook page: "Amazingly, because it was neatly drawn within the confines of the box. I'm not sure the artist meant it to count, but I am grateful." In its guidelines on how to judge doubtful ballot papers, the UK Electoral Commission says returning officers should "determine whether the intention of the voter clearly appears on the ballot."

In a popular thread, Redditors from around the world have been comparing notes on the democratic process and speculating about whether a similar drawing would count as a vote in their respective regions.

One user, who claimed to have worked at count centres for federal elections in Canada, provided a comprehensive list of do's and don'ts and came to the conclusion that the penis drawing would count there.

The question of penis drawings also reared its head in Hungary a few years ago, according to another poster: "The law says the vote is valid if it's clearly two lines crossing each other. So certain stylised [penises] were valid. There were how-to's on the internet and everything."

"Today's lesson kids: If you are going to deface an official document make sure you are actually breaking the rules," wrote another.

But perhaps the over-riding feeling about the incident was summed by one of the many Welsh people participating part in the thread: "It's times like this that make me so proud to be Welsh."

Blog by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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