Removing ink from your thumb could land you in jail

As election day approaches, some South Africans may already be thinking about the ink mark on their left thumb and how best to confirm through social media that they have queued up to “have their say”.

Yet voters are being warned against electoral fraud — all thanks to marks on their thumbs.

Tens of thousands of magic markers will be used to stamp voters.

But how did it all begin?

Below, we answer some of the most common questions that come up on Election Day, and the serious consequences associated with them.

The history of electoral ink on thumbs

When was indelible “electronic ink” first used?

The 1962 Indian general election is believed to be the first time purple ink was applied to voters’ thumbs.

To this day, it is still considered the most “fair and impartial” way to distinguish between voters and opponents.

Why do election officials ink voters’ thumbs?

It is mainly used as a security feature to ensure that no one attempts to vote more than once.

The ink stays on the skin for at least 72 hours, making it comfortable to last through Election Day.

What constitutes a criminal offense using election ink?

The Electoral Commission reminds voters that voting twice or voting without registering is a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

So if you try to remove ink from your thumb after voting – trying to cast more than one ballot – you could be jailed for it.

“Indelible ink is one of the many security checks and safeguards built into the election process, but the Commission wishes to remind all voters that attempting to remove ink marks constitutes election fraud and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.”

Fake nails?

Ever heard the rumor that people who arrive at polling stations with fingernails on are not allowed to vote?

You can ignore it.

No matter how ostentatious your nails are, ink is going to end up on your thumb no matter what!

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