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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK
MPs allow access to ballot papers
Ballot papers, May 2007
Ballot papers were scanned by vote-counting machines
Election investigators are to be allowed to scrutinise thousands of ballot papers which led to the voting fiasco during the Scottish elections.

MPs have approved a change in the law which will allow Ron Gould, who is leading an inquiry, access to the approximately 140,000 rejected ballots.

Scrutiny of ballot papers is forbidden under current law.

Following this morning's vote, the Scottish secretary will be given powers to allow access to the ballots.

Access to the papers is given with the provision they are then returned and destroyed, in order to ensure the secrecy of peoples' votes.

There is an urgent need to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the Scottish election
Alistair Carmichael MP

May's elections for Holyrood and the Scottish local authorities saw a new design of ballot paper for the parliament vote and a new preferential voting system for the council seats.

Some blamed the redesign for the estimated 140,000 rejected papers.

The election saw the SNP emerge as Holyrood victors by a margin of just one seat.

Appropriate legislation

The Electoral Commission appointed Ron Gould - the former assistant chief electoral officer of Canada - to lead an independent inquiry into the debacle.

While Westminster is in charge of overseeing the Holyrood election, the Scottish Parliament has control of the council vote.

First Minister Alex Salmond also backed moves to release council ballot papers to investigators looking into the Holyrood vote.

His spokesman said further scrutiny of rejected ballots would be in everyone's interest.

He added: "The first minister agreed that he would see how this could be done.

"He wants to check with the presiding officer and the other party leaders, but he thinks it would be in everyone's interest."

Mr Salmond has said he wants a judicial review to be carried out into the election after the findings of the current investigation are published late next month.

Ballot paper report at-a-glance
23 Jun 07 |  Scotland
Vote inquiry wants public views
21 May 07 |  Scotland
Clue over voter ballot confusion
15 May 07 |  Scotland
Expert to head elections review
14 May 07 |  Scotland
Rejected votes more than thought
09 May 07 |  Scotland
Election group criticises ballots
05 May 07 |  Scotland

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