"No cell phones when you vote," Italians told

ROME (Reuters) - Italians were told on Tuesday that they will have to leave their beloved cell phones outside the ballot box when they vote in a national election this month.

A statement from the Interior Ministry said cell phones “or any other device that can take still pictures or video clips” will have to be checked outside the polling station during the April 13-14 election.

Mobile phones are ubiquitous in Italy. Last year Eurostat said that by 2005 there were more mobile phones than people Italy -- 122 phones per 100 residents.

The ruling, the first of its kind, was apparently issued to head off corruption.

Officials fear that some voters, particularly in small towns and rural areas, may take a picture or video clip of their paper ballot after they have filled it out behind a curtain and before they have deposited it into a box.

They would then be able to show the picture of the completed ballot to the politician they have voted for in exchange for his or her influence.

Those who violate the rule will be subject to an unspecified fine and jail term.

Reporting by Philip Pullella and Silvia Aloisi, editing by Stephen Brown and Mary Gabriel