Any party can apply for a ‘slogan’ to be included on a ballot paper

19 April 2024
What was claimed

Only the Conservatives are allowed to put a slogan in their candidate’s box on a ballot paper.

Our verdict

False. Any party can use a party description on a ballot paper, provided it has been approved by the Electoral Commission.

A post shared on X (formerly Twitter) and on Facebook asks: “Why the **** are the Conservatives allowed to put a slogan in their candidates box and no-one else is?”

The post includes an image of a ballot paper for the Gloucestershire police and crime commissioner (PCC) election on 2 May. The Conservative candidate Chris Nelson—who is standing for re-election—has “More Police, Safer Streets” printed next to his status as the “Conservative candidate”.

The other three candidates—those representing Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and an independent candidate—have no slogans alongside their party label. 

The social media posts describe this as “cheating”.

“More Police, Safer Streets” is what’s called a ‘party description’. The Electoral Commission describes this as “an optional identity mark that you can register in addition to the party name which can appear on a ballot paper”.

Any party can use a party description on a ballot paper, provided it has been approved by the Electoral Commission.

Party descriptions can be included alongside a party’s name, as is the case here, but on most ballot papers can also be used instead of it, provided the description identifies the party to the voter (though descriptions can’t be the same as the party name).

Any party can register up to 12 descriptions at any one time. Different parties can also choose to register joint party descriptions

Misleading or unclear claims about voting and elections have the potential to affect people’s trust in the political process and how they choose to vote.

Several other Conservative candidates standing in police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales this May have the “More Police, Safer Streets” description alongside their party name.

Some other candidates also have party descriptions—for example the Liberal Democrat candidate for Devon and Cornwall.

(It’s probably also worth noting that you are allowed to take a picture of a postal ballot paper—as is likely the source of this image—you can’t take photos inside polling stations, including of your ballot paper.)

Image courtesy of Pexels

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