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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
'Simpler' voting system for polls
Ballot count
The changes aim to assist the complex task of counting votes
Changes aimed at simplifying the voting process in next year's Holyrood elections have been set out by the Scottish secretary.

Douglas Alexander said there would be a single ballot paper combining both votes for the Scottish Parliament poll on 3 May 2007.

He also confirmed that electronic counting would be used in Holyrood and local government elections.

Overnight counting will remain, with results out the next day as usual.

Administering the three counts in May 2007 is a major logistical challenge.

Douglas Alexander
Voters shouldn't have to worry about how to fill out the ballot paper
Douglas Alexander
Scottish secretary

There are polls for election by constituency and party list to Holyrood, as well as a revised system for local councils.

The decision to introduce proportional representation for the local authority vote has added to the complexity.

This is why it has been decided there will be a single ballot paper for the Holyrood elections.

E-counting tests

It is aimed at making the voting process more straightforward and removing confusion that a vote on the regional list is either less important or a second choice.

The reforms follow a recommendation from the Arbuthnott Commission.

The Scottish Executive has been testing the e-counting system along with the Scotland Office and all of the returning officers in Scotland over the past four months.

Ballot box
The voting shake-up is designed to create a more efficient system

The local elections will be conducted under the single transferable vote (STV) system, meaning three separate voting systems will be in use on polling day.

Mr Alexander said: "With changes taking place and the complexity of voting systems we should be making the voting process as straightforward as possible.

"All the voters should have to think about is which party's policies meet their wishes.

"They shouldn't have to worry about how to fill out the ballot paper."

A single ballot paper for the Holyrood elections would remove any confusion that a vote on the regional list was less important, he added.

'Complex process'

Public Service Reform Minister Tom McCabe said electronic counting would provide quick, accurate and reliable election results.

"The STV count for the local authority elections is a complex process," said Mr McCabe.

"E-counting will be able to handle this count effectively and efficiently. It will dramatically reduce the amount of time to complete the count in comparison to a manual count."

The minister said the parliamentary count would be declared first, followed by the local government results.

A decision on when the local government result would be declared had not yet been made, Mr McCabe added.




SEE ALSO
Watchdog backs vote count change
10 Jan 06 |  Scotland
MSPs approve new voting system
23 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Wallace urges Holyrood vote change
22 Sep 03 |  Scotland

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