Andrew Sperling, Solicitor-Advocate, considers EU Referendum Day
1. Beware Canvassers Bearing Gifts or Entertainment
The criminal offence of treating applies if a person directly or indirectly gives any food, drink or entertainment to corruptly influence any voter to vote.
So…if someone offers you a bag of sweets or starts juggling in front of you in an entertaining manner, suggesting you should vote Leave or Remain, you may want to consult a police officer.
2. Do Not Pretend to Be Someone Else When You Go To Vote
Putting on a wig and your Auntie Angela’s best frock to go the polling station is fine so long as you do not give Auntie Angela’s name and address when you get there.
Personation is a criminal offence in which a person votes as someone else.
3. Watch Out for Police Officers Outside Polling Stations
If a police officer approaches you and tries to persuade you to vote Leave, find another police officer and report them.
It is an offence for members of a police force to canvass and to try to persuade a person to vote in a particular way.
4. Do Not Publish Racist Posters
It is an offence under the Public Order Act 1986 to publish or distribute threatening, abusive or insulting material that is intended to stir up racial hatred or which is likely to stir up racial hatred.
For example – a poster with a slogan ‘Enough is Enough’ with a long line of people trying to enter the country, all of whom are black.
5. Do Not Make Threats
If you get a knock on the door from someone brandishing a pitchfork and suggesting in a menacing way that you should vote one way or another, you know what to do.
A person is committing an offence of undue influence if they directly or indirectly make use of or threaten to make use of violence or damage to induce a person to vote.
Olliers Solicitors – Specialist Criminal Defence Manchester and London
Written by Andrew Sperling. Olliers specialise in the defence of serious crime and have specialist teams dealing with the full spectrum of criminal offences including election offences in addition to prison law, motoring law, asset recovery, professional disciplinary offences and inquests. We are the Manchester Legal Awards Crime Team of the Year 2016 and are ranked as a Top Tier firm in both the 2015 edition of the Legal 500 and Chambers Directory 2016.