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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 18:33 GMT
Voting reform focusing on youth
Ballot box
The voting reform report includes 24 recommendations
Electronic voting in Scottish elections should replace paper ballots by 2011, according to a report into the country's voting system.

The Arbuthnott Commission report said the single transferable vote system should also be introduced for European Parliament elections.

It said the voting system should be clear and attractive to the electorate.

But a Labour MP has tabled a motion to block Holyrood candidates from standing in both constituencies and for regions.

Over a period of 18 months, the commission studied issues relating to Scotland's range of voting systems and published its report - Putting Citizens First: Boundaries, Voting and Representation in Scotland - on Thursday morning.

The paper contains 24 recommendations including the introduction of e-voting in an effort to embrace new technology and attract younger voters.

It also says:

  • The current mixed member system for electing the Scottish Parliament should be retained, but with a change to improve voter choice

  • Constituency and regional boundaries for the Scottish Parliament should be based on local authority areas rather than Westminster constituencies, with the regions revised to better reflect natural local communities

  • Candidates for election to the Scottish Parliament should not be prohibited from standing in a constituency and on the regional list

  • Clearer and more positive roles should be developed for constituency and regional MSPs

  • The single transferable vote system should be introduced for European parliamentary elections

  • Scottish Parliament and local government elections should be held on different days.

Professor Sir John Arbuthnott, the commission's chairman, said he believed the recommendations would help make devolution work for the benefit of Scotland's voters.

"Communities and community interests emerged at all levels of our inquiry as being particularly vital," he said.

"Overall, we believe our report shows that, with sensible reform, Scotland can achieve electoral systems which are proportional and which produce a mix of constituency and regional members.

"This should create a new balance between citizen advocacy and strategic overview in the constituencies and regions at a time of rapid economic and social development in Scotland."

We've had devolution. This is evolution - not revolution.
Brian Taylor
BBC Scotland political editor

However, a Labour MP has urged the House of Commons to prevent candidates for the Holyrood elections standing for constituency seats and appearing on the list system.

Livingston MP Jim Devine raised the issue in the Commons on Thursday and has tabled a motion which has been signed by more than 60 Labour MPs.

He said Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond was running for election to Holyrood in the Gordon constituency and on the regional list.

Mr Devine said: "My constituents are asking: is it fair that he should have two bites at the electoral cherry?

"It's an affront to democracy where losers become winners. Holyrood's election rules need to be looked at again. There is a flaw in the democratic process which prevents list MSPs from fulfilling the distinctive role set out for them in the Scotland Act.

"The list system was supposed to create a group of MSPs who could take an overview of politics within their own area."

Mr Salmond was dismissive and said: "The plaintive cries from Westminster Labour MPs today confirm just how out of touch they are with modern Scotland."

The commission's report has been sent to Scottish Secretary Alistair Darling and First Minister Jack McConnell who will decide whether to implement its recommendations.

Mr Darling pledged to consider the findings "carefully" but said there could be no legislation before the 2007 Holyrood elections.

BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor said: "The Arbuthnott Commission was, from first principles, about compromise: balancing one demand against another.

"We've had devolution. This is evolution - not revolution."

See what the commission's concerns were

Mixed views on voting reform plan
19 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Watchdog backs vote count change
10 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Move to axe Holyrood second vote
10 May 05 |  Scotland
'PR must happen' Kennedy insists
20 Sep 04 |  Scotland
MSPs approve PR election move
24 Mar 04 |  Scotland
Council election reform support
19 Mar 04 |  Scotland

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