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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
May elections review at-a-glance
A report by the Electoral Commission into the fiasco surrounding the May 2007 Scottish elections, led by independent election expert Ron Gould, has concluded that the voter was "treated as an afterthought" in the planning and organisation of the polls.

Here is a summary of its main findings.

  • The Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive frequently focused on partisan political interests, overlooking those of the voter and the operational realities of the election timetable.
  • Changes were introduced with the expectation that they would fall into place and there was no effective planning process connecting legislative and operational timescales.
  • Present legislation for Scottish parliamentary and local government elections is so fragmented and antiquated that it interferes with the timely and effective management of the process, and legislation should to be revamped.
  • There was strong evidence that combining the Scottish parliamentary ballot papers on one sheet was primarily responsible for the high levels of rejected ballot papers.
  • There was no evidence that electronic counting contributed to the number of rejected ballot papers - despite problems on the night - and the system cannot be reasonably abandoned if the Single Transferable Vote system is to continue.
  • There was little evidence to indicate that the simultaneous local government election using the Single Transferable Vote contributed substantially to the higher rejection rates in the Scottish parliamentary elections.
  • The fragmented roles and responsibilities for planning, organising and conducting the polls hindered the ability to achieve problem-free elections at every stage.
  • A chief returning officer for Scotland should oversee Scottish parliamentary and council elections - taking over some functions of the Electoral Commission - and full time returning officers appointed from the date an election is called.
  • There were too many changes and not enough time to adequately incorporate them into the electoral process.
  • Combined elections are a disservice to local government and candidates, and separate elections would better help voters engage with the campaign and make informed decisions.
  • Voter interests would be better served by separate ballot papers in future elections, whether Holyrood and council elections are held on the same day or not.
  • Registered names of political parties, rather than descriptions, should appear first on future regional ballot papers for Scottish parliamentary elections and a lottery held to determine ballot paper positioning to prevent future confusion.
  • Provisions for postal voting did not allow enough time for ballot paper printing and close of nomination should be set at 23 days before polling day rather than 16, with the final day for postal vote applications also set earlier.
  • There is a need to rebuild confidence in all areas of electoral administration.
  • The VoteScotland public information campaign was mostly commendable, but was hampered by an inability to provide detailed information due to late decisions by ministers on ballot paper design.
  • If polls continue to close at 2200, there should be no overnight counts and an emphasis placed on quality, not speed.
  • Many of the problems with the electronic count resulted from legislative delays, which influenced the ballot paper design and the count itself.

Probe says May poll failed voters
23 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Reliving the election night chaos
23 Oct 07 |  Scotland

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