Banksy’s Free Art Threatened Privacy and Bribery Laws

BY Katrina Kufer / Jun 7 2017 / 17:34 PM

By declaring an offer of free art to those who vote against the UK Conservative candidate, Banksy inadvertently contravened laws designed to ensure the secrecy of voters and fell under potential bribery

Banksy’s Free Art Threatened Privacy and Bribery Laws
Image courtesy the artist

The anonymous street artist posted on his website that as of 9 June, a new limited-edition print would be released and mailed to registered voters in a specified geographical zone following their photographic proof of their ballots indicating they had voted against the Conservative Tories. The print will be an iteration of his Girl With A Balloon featuring a Union Jack flag in lieu of the inflatable object.

By requesting the public within the six Bristol-areas to reveal their ballots, however, it has been noted that it could be read as a bribe and violates secrecy laws. Despite Banksy’s “lawyer’s note” disclaimer which reads: “This print is a souvenir piece of campaign material, it is in no way meant to influence the choices of the electorate, has no monetary value, is for amusement purposes only and is strictly not for resale. Terms and conditions to follow, postage not included,” under the UK’s Section 66 of the Representation of the People’s Act, it is a criminal offence to “induce a voter to display his ballot paper after he has marked it so as to make known to any person the name of the candidate for whom he has or has not voted.”

It was also noted that it is illegal to show the ballot’s identification number, and an electoral commission spokesman has since told the BBC that, “Given the risk that someone taking a photo inside a polling station may be in breach of the law, whether intentionally or not, the commission’s advice is against taking any photos inside polling stations.”

Update: As of Wednesday morning, Banksy has withdrawn his offer with the statement: "I have been warned by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer will invalidate the election result. So I regret to announce this ill-conceived and legally dubious promotion has now been cancelled."

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