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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: London Referendum  
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EDITIONS
London Referendum Wednesday, 6 May, 1998, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
'X' marks the spot
Ballot
All of these ballots will now be considered acceptable, more or less
The Government is asking returning officers on duty at this Thursday's London referendum to count as valid as many ballot papers as possible, even those where the voter's 'X' does not quite hit the spot.

Traditionally, only ballot papers marked with a cross in the appropriate space are registered.

But officials are being asked to consider ballot papers bearing 'smiley' faces and games of noughts and crosses, as long as they appear in the space usually reserved for the voters 'X'.

Ballot papers bearing no crosses but marked with the words "I agree" or "OK" would be also considered valid, as would those bearing several crosses. This more tolerant approach is designed to make the process of voting just a little bit more accessible.

The guidance is being issued by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to returning officers in an 84-page booklet.

A government spokeswoman said the document contained examples of what would and would not be acceptable as a 'Yes' or 'No' vote but was unable to confirm particular examples.

She added that the document was only guidance and that counters must use their common sense.

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The head of BBC Political Research, Bill Bush, explains the new 'friendlier' voting procedure
Links to more London Referendum stories are at the foot of the page.


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