No advert for democracy

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 02:04 AM

The majority for Labour in Airdrie was 1446.

The number of rejected ballot papers was 1536.

Nobody is suggesting that all of those rejected papers were for Labour's rival, the SNP.

But it is scarcely a good advert for democracy.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:06 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Lucy Crichton wrote:

Its ridiculous that rejected papers aren't counted in the turn out - those people definitely 'turned out'!

  • 2.
  • At 02:08 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Andy N wrote:

It's impossible to know how many people just simply protested by spoliing the ballot or just didnt pay attention to the instructions. I'd be interested to see how the level of rejected papers compares to other elections around the world.

  • 3.
  • At 02:11 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • John Thomson wrote:

Brian can you find out for us and say on the air how these papers are being rejected. Is it protest votes or people failing to understand the new system?

Could we end up with a re-vote?

  • 4.
  • At 02:13 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Duncan Hothersall wrote:

Brian, any additional detail on that heckling in Anniesland? Do we know what they were saying?

  • 5.
  • At 02:13 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Chris Russell wrote:

Yep, we definately need to find examples of how people have managed to muck these up.

The figures for the STV coucil elections are surely only going to be significantly worse if anything?!

  • 6.
  • At 02:13 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Ross MacLean wrote:

Good coverage so far, but why are we being given an update on English results when you have yet to display the Moray constituency result on screen? It appeared on the ticker but there has been no mention of this result. We've waited hours for results to come in, and when two arrive at the same time, one is ignored.

  • 7.
  • At 02:14 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • David Nicol wrote:

If the ballots are being spoiled as voters are indicating their preference with a number rather than a cross surely common sense will prevail and the returning officer will take the "1" vote as the "X"?

  • 8.
  • At 02:15 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • John Isaacs wrote:

This really is an important issue, information of the reason for the spoiled ballots should be provided by the presiding officers.

As David Nicol said in the previous comment, it would be useful to see what proportion of the reject papers were 'spoiled' in various ways, was it people putting 1s instead of Xs, crossing too many boxes, not marking the paper at all or any other way. But sure with over 1000 rejected ballot papers in each constituency, there's some systematic error.

Do the Returning Officers know they need to manually verify rejected papers? and are they actually doing this?

Can someone interview a Returning Officer on air?

  • 10.
  • At 02:17 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • stork wrote:

1536 spoiled papers,,is this a record,,,should votes be counted manualy and seconded,,and is there an appeal system

  • 11.
  • At 02:18 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Kenny Mackie wrote:

There seem to be far too many spoiled votes. Is this down to the compexity of the papers these days and not enough guidance given to the voters?
Will there be any sort of investigation or explanation for all of these?
(In Texas and missed voting!)

  • 12.
  • At 02:18 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Gordon_J wrote:

The level of spoilt papers is alarming. Clearly having two different elections running on different electoral systems on the one day has been a disaster.

  • 13.
  • At 02:18 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Graeme wrote:

Would their be a legal position on the amount of rejected votes?

There is something clearly wrong, and I do know that following the tests in Highland that these electronic systems were not accurate.

Take the Cairngorm National Park vote as an example, the error rate there was fairly high.

These machines are not accurate. I do also accept that voter error due to both votes taking place will account for a % of these.

  • 14.
  • At 02:18 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Tommy Sheppard wrote:

Hi Brian

That's a good point about the Anniesland heckling. If the BBC has a reporter on the ground, can't they be directed to find out who was heckling and why. It may be that Bill Butler's enthusiasm to publicly lambast the SNP for this was misplaced, although it woudl be further evidence of Labour's kneejerk nat-bashing. Either way the images appearred to show some people with a point to make - it would be illuminating to know what it was.

Keep hammering on about the rejected ballots by the way - it's quite shocking. What do we know about this private firm now apparently responsible for arbitrating our votes.

  • 15.
  • At 02:20 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

If an X is meant to be on the SP form I for one would hope any SP form with a number on it would be rejected.

  • 16.
  • At 02:22 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Sorry to lower the tone, but why has Glen Campbell just been announced as the Justin Timberlake of the BBC? We need answers!

  • 17.
  • At 02:23 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • B Reid wrote:

why is Glen Campbell the Justin Timberlake of BBC Scotland, as the ticker on the TV just stated?

  • 18.
  • At 02:23 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • B Reid wrote:

I agree with Peter.

I think the Glen Campbell is Justin Timberlake story is THE story of the evening. Does the ticker writer have a fancy for him?

  • 19.
  • At 02:24 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Christina wrote:

It's a disgrace. This was my first time to vote and I'm so disappointed at the number of spoiled votes. It wasn't that difficult to read the instructions and follow them through. I'd like to know what sort of a mess the paper has to be in before it's considered spoiled.
It's funny how there are such big numbers of spoiled votes in some of the areas where the results were so tight.

  • 20.
  • At 02:24 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • D Glassey wrote:

Just a thought, I wonder if many of the rejected papers are ex-SSP voters that don't want to vote for any of the other parties in the constituency. If that is the case I hope their regional list votes don't get rejected as well. It'll be interesting if the turnout on the regional list if different from the total of the constituencies.

  • 21.
  • At 02:27 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Neil Small wrote:

The two different ways of casting a vote is to blame. People have been using the same system of marking with an "x". Now they want us to do both that and choose a number. I've realised that I messed up the council vote, because I spent so much time reading the number of candidates. This is an appalling system to use, and I can see the losing parties demanding a new election. The number of spoilt papers is far too high. Never mind reading instructions, how about the presiding officers emphasising the correct way to fill in the forms.

  • 22.
  • At 02:29 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Martin Downes wrote:

I'd much rather here more about what's going on with this than is being covered on the tv. Lets face it - the regional lists are going to be far more crucial, and they are ages away yet! Lets think about what's going on!

  • 23.
  • At 02:31 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Lucy Crichton wrote:

I think ist important to reiterate that rejected ballots are checked by a human being ie the re turning officer, and its only if there is no clear choice indicated that a paper is rejected

Ofte if the resut is very close the candidates are asked to review the spolilt ballots too so they can be confident that the right decisions are being made.

Finally the ballots are retained so if there is any legal challenges they can be re-examined again.

In the past ballots have been accpetd when the voter just put a smiley face instead of a cross or wrote 'yes please' next to a candidate's name - even though they didn't put a cross they were making a clear choice.

  • 24.
  • At 02:32 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • john wrote:

Another 1800 votes wasted.

  • 25.
  • At 02:32 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

SNP supporters are out of control in Glasgow, whit a disgrace.

  • 26.
  • At 02:33 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Caz wrote:

Justin Timberlake was playing at the SECC tonight, which is where the votes are counted.

Another result just announced at the Glasgow count and there was heckling again, as the Labour winner accused the SNP crowd of intimidation and bullying at the count.

  • 27.
  • At 02:33 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • David Henderson wrote:

Hi, I worked as an information officer at Thornwood Primary School today in Glasgow Kelvin.
I have no doubt that holding two elctions under different voting systems on the same day has lead to the high number of spoilt votes. I would say 60% of people coming into our polling station were unsure of how to vote. I'm sure the electoral commission will find that spoilt ballots were due to either to "x's" or "1's" and "2's" on the wrong ballot paper.
This is wholly unacceptable

  • 28.
  • At 02:35 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • roxy wrote:

To Neil Small: How is it an appalling system? You only have to read it. There aren't even any big or difficult words! People are just too lazy and pass the blame on. Next it will be suggested we all get readers and tell them what we want them to put for us!

You've ignored Cunninghame South as well - I suppose that just because it's a similar pattern to other LAB HOLD seats you feel it doesn't warrant any comment?

  • 30.
  • At 02:45 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Charles Broadfoot wrote:

This spoilt paper issue is a non story. Typically people have rushed to a judgement before examining the facts. When counting votes for the first past the post system anyone who has not expressed a preference for any of the listed candidates have been identified as a spolit paper on this list. It is fairly obvious that these are people who wanted to particpate in the regional list vote for a different party but had no preference on the first past the post vote.

  • 31.
  • At 02:51 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • roxy wrote:

Not much is clearly obvious with regards the spoilt papers. Perhaps we should wait?!

  • 32.
  • At 02:51 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Mintie wrote:

Who is checking all the ballot papers counted by the machine that are not 'rejected' to make sure the machine picks up the correct information and records it into the system? Shocking that so many ballots are being rejected.

  • 33.
  • At 02:52 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Brian, could the strange results be attributed to people voting SNP on the list, thinking that was their constituency vote, and that the constituency choices were merely an extension of the left side of the paper?

  • 34.
  • At 03:04 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Lucy Crichton wrote:

Yes, I think you did expect the constituency votes to be on the left side of the ballot paper as you tend to do that one first and the List second - I had to do a double-take to check I as doing the right thing.

  • 35.
  • At 03:21 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • jim wrote:

if you have to explain how it works, or read it twice, its already too complicated. the fact that you have to rank your favorite candidates numerically is absurd and a path to disaster. x marks the spot.

  • 36.
  • At 03:22 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Gordon Miller wrote:

It is electoral fraud. Pure and simple. This has been the most shoddy election in the west since the 2000 US elections.

Brian, it is up to you and your estate, to highlight the preposterous and disgraceful actions of the Scottish Office.

100,000 "missing" votes is a national scandal. There is no question of any shilly-shallying here. Democracy is threatened.

  • 37.
  • At 03:33 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Daniel Smith wrote:

Postal votes are even worse an advert .
Mine, for the Scottish Parliament (Highlands/ Inverness East) and Highland Council (Fort William), arrived down here in Bristol TODAY with no time left to post it back and is thus wasted.

Postal votes have been more damaging to democracy than the Reichstag fire!

  • 38.
  • At 03:35 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Gordon_J wrote:

Is they key problem the fact that the two ballot papers for the parliament, list and constituency, were on one piece of paper, rather than seperate as in previous years.

Did some people vote on the left hand side for a party, thinking that this also counted for the constituency? We will know if this is the case if the spoilt papers in the lists are much lower.

  • 39.
  • At 03:41 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Jim Langlands wrote:

Ex resident Dalry, North Ayrshire, or Cunninghame North.

Why so many spoiled papers?

This could be for various reasons.

1. Two voting systems on same day.

First past the Post with Top up from Regional List.

Single Transferrable Vote giving electors the ruler they hate the least not always the one they love the most.

Are "X" or "1" votes in the wrong place classed as spoilt papers?

Just read that the largest number are "blank". That doesn't make sense.

If it is correct then the Polling slips are badly designed.

2. Faulty machines.

(but the votes are supposed to be manually checked)

3. Fraud.

(No chance. Too many witnesses)

Just my thoughts, I am now in the Philippines with elections in ten days time.

I hope the SNP are the largest party, form the government and Alex Salmond becomes First Minister.

Anyway I will be watching results today in the 32C - 34C heat hahaha.

  • 40.
  • At 03:44 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Richard Reeve wrote:

Just so you know, putting numbers into the constituency and list votes is okay according to the electoral commission. They just take the 1 or one or ONE as your vote.

  • 41.
  • At 03:44 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Alex Browne wrote:

Can we have more discussion of how and why ballots are being spoiled?

A high proportion appear to be blank or unclear - if these are papers where voters have ignored the constituency candidates but have voted on the regional list, will these regional votes count, or is the whole paper rejected?

  • 42.
  • At 07:37 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Frank Bradley wrote:

I am one who messed it up by using an X instead of a 1.

I wrote to suggest a simple remedy for this election fiasco before it's all over with 100s of thousands of lost votes.

The point is that people who have put X instead of 1, 2 etc on Local Council paper have made their intention absolutely clear and that should be respected. Choosing just one candidate WAS allowed.
So let X = 1.

Similarly with the Holyrood Election. If you wrote 1,2 etc then you made your top preference clear.
So let 1 = X

If the machines cannot cope then use people.

Frank Bradley, Aboyne

Post a comment

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

Required (not displayed)

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites