Just a couple of days ago, the graffiti artist Banksy announced on his website that he’d give a free limited-edition print to all voters registered in one of the six Bristol-area constituencies who would vote against the Tories in the general election on June 8.
“Simply send in a photo of your ballot paper from polling day showing you voted against the Conservative candidate and this complimentary gift will be mailed to you,” said a note next to a picture of the print, which depicts a little girl and a heart-shaped balloon emblazoned with the Union Jack. Though a disclaimer on his website says the print is not meant to influence anyone’s voting choices, and that the work is a souvenir that has no monetary value and cannot be resold, the artist nonetheless was forced to rescind the offer after police in Somerset and Avon launched an investigation.
According to Roisin O’Connor of The Independent, a spokesperson for the police said, “It is a criminal offense under the Representation of People Act 1983 for any voter to accept or agree to accept a gift or similar in return for voting or refraining from voting. Any person participating in an offer to receive a gift is at risk of being prosecuted.” In a new statement posted to his website, Banksy said, “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 canceled.”