Twitter has come alive in the last two hours with tweets and retweets of Labour’s new media Tsarina Kerry McCarthy, who appears to have attended a postal vote opening session in her constituency of Bristol East – and then tweeted her tally totals.
Just to be clear, this is illegal. You should not do it. If you are attending postal vote processing sessions or are an agent yourself, please make sure your entire team knows that anything you learn at that session cannot be shared.
Mark Pack has the full listing of the section of the law that applies in this case, but the main point is this:
66A Prohibition on publication of exit polls
(1) No person shall, in the case of an election to which this section applies, publish before the poll is closed–
(a) any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted,
Kerry Mccarthy, whose website boasts she is a qualified solicitor, should have known better than to publish the information she learned. Indeed once she’d had a few minutes’ thinking time, she hastily deleted the original post. But not before it had been retweeted all over the internet.
This is a serious offence, from a qualified solicitor, experienced candidate and a former MP, and it needs to be taken seriously. If Kerry McCarthy is prosecuted and convicted, she could end up in prison for 6 months.
In the mean time, on a lighter note, Twitter is now speculating what the message would look like if Kerry was boasting about breaking other areas of election law – here and here.