Graffiti artist Banksy has revoked his “UK Election Souvenir Special” print offer after it prompted a police investigation and triggered a public warning against electoral fraud.
In an update to our recent coverage of the “complimentary gift”, which the street artist offered to mail to voters in six Bristol constituencies if they voted against the Conservative party in the UK general election, a “Product Recall” message has appeared on the Banksy website. The message states that the artist has “been warned by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer will invalidate the election result”.
The decision to revoke the offer was announced after several complaints were filed with Avon and Somerset police. The police confirmed that they would be investigating Banksy’s offer and that anyone who sought to take advantage of it risked prosecution. “It is a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983 for any voter to accept or agree to accept a gift or similar in return for voting or refraining from voting”, a police spokesman said.
Charitable organisation Crimestoppers has also cautioned voters “not to stand for electoral fraud during the upcoming General Election”. “It’s illegal to offer money or gifts to voters, directly or indirectly, to get someone to vote a certain way, or not to vote at all”, a statement reads on the charity’s website.
Banksy’s “print-for-vote” offer invited Bristolians to submit a photograph of their ballot papers from today’s election (8 June) indicating that they had voted against the Conservative candidate in order to receive an “exclusive new Banksy print”. The print would have been a revised version of his beloved “girl with a balloon” image with a Union Jack inside the balloon.
The offer raised concerns that it might contravene strict election secrecy laws and perhaps even infringe anti-bribery rules. The UK Electoral Commission has advised that any offer, which seeks to “induce any voter to vote or not vote” may constitute an electoral offence.
On his website, Banksy shared his regret that his “ill-conceived and legally dubious promotion has now been cancelled”.