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Truth Tracker: Marking ballot papers with pencils does not increase the risk of election fraud




EDMONTON – Since advanced voting opened on Friday, Canadian Elections have been actively spreading allegations online that polling stations are using pencils that can be stained or intentionally altered to spoil voters’ votes.

The allegations have sparked a somewhat misleading call on social media as those concerned about election fraud are urging voters to bring pens to their polling station to prevent their vote being rigged.

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Posts claiming that pencils offered at Elections Canada polling stations increase the risk of electoral fraud can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Most of these posts express concern that ballot papers marked in pencil could be stained, devaluing the ballot paper. Others suggest more covert scenarios, including claims that pencil selections can be deleted or altered to “manipulate” choices.

“Do not use a pencil, it can be erased … the black pen is accepted on Canadian Election ballots … do not let anyone tell you otherwise,” read an Instagram post posted Monday by PPC Simcoe North, Ont . campaign.

Many of these posts call on voters to instead bring a pen with them to vote for an approved option widely published by the Canadian Election.


Elections Canada is required by law to provide black pencils at polling stations, as it always has been. This year, voters will be given a personal, disposable pencil to mark the ballot in an effort to be more COVID-19 friendly.

However, the Canadian Election makes it very clear both on their website and on social media that voters can bring their pens, markers or other writing instruments to mark their ballots without throwing them away. .

“Canada elections provide voters with pencils at polling stations, as this is mandated in the Canada Election Act. However, voters are welcome to bring pens, pencils, sharpeners, etc. to mark the ballot paper,” the spokeswoman said. of Elections in Canada, Natasha Gauthier for by email on Monday.

Gauthier added that there are numerous integrity measures in place to ensure that ballot papers which come in brochures with unique, consecutive serial numbers will not be tampered with.

“Voting itself has several security features, including a specially colored paper and a torn strip (countersheet) which includes its own unique serial number,” she said.

“After a voter returns the folded ballot to the election palace, the employee compares the counterattack number with the stump number on the booklet to make sure it is the same, then removes the ballot paper and tears it before giving it ( still folded) the ballot paper back to the voter to put in the box “.

Workers at polling stations also work under full public scrutiny and are never alone, which means there will be witnesses to any vote rigging. Under Election Guarantees in Canada, two controllers and party representatives are also posted at each polling station.

And while it should be noted that pencils provided at polling stations are not equipped with erasers, Election Canada adds that claims that ballot papers marked with a pencil can be stained to invalidate a result are unfounded.

In fact, CTV News testified to a test conducted by the Canada Election of one of the pencils given at polling stations on a sample ballot. The ‘X’ stains a little, but not so much as to distort the mark, even when rubbed with water.

According to the Canadian Election, as long as there is a mark next to a candidate’s name even if the vote count is stained.

“When voting in person, voters mark the ballot paper within the circle next to the name of their chosen candidate. When voting by special ballot, they must write on behalf of their chosen candidate,” Gauthier said.

“In both cases, as long as the ballot paper is properly marked / read and the voter’s intent is clear, it will be counted.”


Claims that using a pencil could allow someone to stain, alter, or erase ballots are false. However, if you are concerned about using the pencil on your ballot paper, you are encouraged and have the right to bring a pen or marker.

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Edited by Adam Ward




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