Why you're given pencils at polling booths instead of pens

You’re lined up, you’ve had your sausage in a roll and you’ve decided who you’re voting for.

It’s the day of the federal election and pamphlets are flying through a sea of red, blue, yellow and green at your local voting centre.

But have you ever wondered why, after you’re finished lining up, and head to the booth you’re given a pencil and not a pen?

Voters at the polling booths at Bronte Public School in Sydney for the Wentworth by-election in October. Voters are supplied pencils to fill out papers. Source: Getty Images

According to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) it’s more practical to provide pencils.

An AEC spokesman told Yahoo News Australia pencils are “easier to store”.

“They don’t run out of ink and they’re better in humid climates,” he said.

Staff also sharpen the pencils throughout the day.

An empty polling booth showing a pencil at the ready. Source: Getty Images

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring in your favourite pen to fill out the ballot papers.

“There aren’t any restrictions on voters using pens,” the AEC spokesman said.

“As long as it’s clear who you’ve voted for.”

In total, about 120,000 pencils will be provided to voting centres across the country for Saturday.

That’s a lot of sharpening.

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