Rejected papers 'disastrous'

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 04:03 AM

More on the voting system.

Robin Harper of the Greens - whose party look to be struggling - has called the figures on rejected ballot papers "disastrous".

One of my readers has told me that they were given advice to fold their ballot paper - despite the guidance, nationally, that they shouldn't.

This is a serious guddle.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:04 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Vic wrote:

Is it the case that a mistake on one side of the SP ballot would invalidate the whole paper or would the other side still count? If not Robin Harper might be right that a number of the small parties might lose out significantly.

  • 2.
  • At 04:08 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • LabourLass wrote:

Gordon Jackson should have won! He deserved to, not her.

  • 3.
  • At 04:10 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • john wrote:

It is a disaster, its making the Scottish exec as well as the public look rather foolish. I need some action though. something kicking off Im starting to get tired, might have to go and do some work, I am at work after all.

  • 4.
  • At 04:11 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • John Thomson wrote:

We could end up with a lower turnout figur than last time, despite more people turning up to vote. Disastrous is absolutely right.

  • 5.
  • At 04:21 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Lucy Crichton wrote:

Paisley North seemed to have the lowest number of spoilt ballots so far (600 and something) . Coincidentally it was also one of the few constiuencies to have an SSP candidate (Iain Hogg).
Is there, as I think someone posited earlier on this blog, a connection here between the spoilt papers and SSP votes?

  • 6.
  • At 04:27 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Aidan wrote:

We're going to have to find up whether these ballots are actually void or whether there have been technical difficulties. I don't believe 100,000 people have left their ballots blank (which, where they've broken down the cause of the problems seems to be the biggest issue). What will the fallout be if it turns out filled in ballots have been counted as blank?

  • 7.
  • At 04:30 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • KB aka Teuchter wrote:

If this issue had arisen before now people might have stopped voting for Labour sooner. The panel are all completely correct - this is a national embarrassment. How can we expect to be taken seriously when we can't even complete what should be a relatively simple task of voting?

Next time people won't vote so turnout will go down again!

  • 8.
  • At 04:35 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Gordon_J wrote:

The SSP picked up 525 votes in Paisley North compared with 1678 last time. Given the party has split one would expect their vote to go down.

It is possible that SSP voters in other consituencies did not vote in the constituency election, although the numbers seemed to suggest that most voted for the SNP.

It will be interesting to see if the list vote shows a much lower number of spoiled papers.

  • 9.
  • At 04:37 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Daniel Coote wrote:

Where getting on for 150,000 votes spoilt. This is a total shambles - The Scottish Executive will look so, so stupid.It makes the public look stupid; and that's wrong.

Was there any REAL testing of this new system? 26 days testing apparently according to Ann McGuire - sounds like the software is not up to the job.

I think there should be a re-election; who else agrees?

  • 10.
  • At 04:40 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • David wrote:

Aidan, This is not possible if the electronic counter picks up a spoiled paper it is checked by the returning officer. What seems to have happened is 2 different but related problems. 1 - People are getting confused and are filling in their ballots incorrectly thus a high number of spoiled papers and 2 - Due to this large number of papers requiring to be checked the counts are being slowed accross the country

  • 11.
  • At 04:41 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Jean Stewart wrote:

Why were me made to choose two names on the ballot paper? Surely those ballots voided will be for people who used crosses. Was this a deliberate act or corruption and was done in the US?

  • 12.
  • At 05:07 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Darryl Matheson wrote:

most of the seats the SNP have taken from Labour have been narrow majorities and many inside the spolied ballot number whereas Labour where it has held on it has mostly done with large enough majorities but surely there will have to be further elections afterall it could be a certain type of person who would be confused by the new system and therefore spoil their ballot, older people for example who may be more inclined to vote for a particular party.

  • 13.
  • At 05:28 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • foxy voter wrote:

I went bleary eyed to vote on way to work and was "fair bamboozed" by the number of changes at my local polling station:

it was held in a different part of the building - nothing like removing familiarity to unease the voter

the old metal ballot boxes were nowhere to be seen - these new cardbox boxes (are they fireproof and road accident proof) are used explained the clerk. white one for the white paper and black one for the other. Again, nothing like loosing the familiarity to make things easier for the voter.

I could have wallpapered the polling booth with the size of the sheets - its bad enough having a candidate list as long as your arm but multiply that by 3 and it does become tedious

I need 2 Xs on the one sheet and a list of numbers on the other or was it 2 lists of numbers and 1 X - at 7:00AM bleary eyed without the morning caffiene it was difficult for me at aged 39 to cope. My poor parents and my granny will be totally dumfoonert by it all.

Back to the clerks table - right hen that's me done. which one goes where. no i haven't folded it and yes it is face down as you can see.

walking to bus stop (had to wait 40 minutes for a 10 minute frequency!) I again think:

what if the van has a crash on way to the count - a cardboard box isnt impact proof?
and if there is fire, it aint fireproof?
and I suppose some aggrieved voter could trash the box (what that did happen somewhere with a golf club?)
And if it had been a typical scottish day with the rain stotting down, are these cardboard boxes waterproof?

come to thing of it, these are just like grocery boxes you get to carry home your shopping - why bother with polling stations at all? next time you go through the checkout at Tesco's or wherever- that'll be £12.53 sir. Well can you stick £10.00 on my mobile and here's my lotto card while your at it. Cashback - no thanks. Right sir thats £25.53, Paying by card no problem. Enter your pin number and then enter number of candidate your voting for.

  • 14.
  • At 06:37 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • William G wrote:

Darryl, however much i disagree with the voting system and the farcical number of spoiled votes i cannot believe you can honestly think the only way the SNP took seats from Labour was due to the number of spoiled votes. It would be that all the spoiled votes would have to come from labour supporters...does this tell you something?

If you had been watching the pre-election news you would know that SNP have had a lead over labour for a long time now. So dont speak so much tripe!

  • 15.
  • At 06:44 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Jane D wrote:

Spoiled papers

Being unsure of how to use the ballot papers this time round, I took some time to read the large notice board just inside the door of the polling station. I was sure that there was a picture of 2 crosses down each side of the double sheet. The actual paper stated that one cross only should be put on each side. Could someone check this out please?

  • 16.
  • At 07:02 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Angus H wrote:

I completely agree with #13 - "Foxy Voter"

I think the replacement of metal ballot boxes has proved to be a mistake.

Look at that unfortunate business in West Edinburgh. If the old metal ballot boxes had been in use I wonder if so many ballot papers would have been damaged or destroyed.

If nothing else it would have taken more time to break in and the police might have arrived before he managed to get into the box.

  • 17.
  • At 07:02 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Alan Campbell wrote:

Frankly this has been an utter shambles.
But in a sense it has helped labour stave off the SNP, and kep seats, I think it was anniesland where the number of spoiled or rejected papers exceeded Labours majority. now that should go to a re-polling.

Labour knew this would be confusing, adn difficult for some people. and couyld only benefit themselves. Whilst not rigging an election, which would be illegal, it smacks of trying to ensure a safe-ish result, a poor night for scottish politicians.

  • 18.
  • At 08:19 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Billy wrote:

Apart from general voter confusion over where to "X" and where to put numbers, I found that our boxes became backed up with papers which voters had inadvertantly folded, causing further folds in papers which were inserted correctly. This created a situation where the ballot boxes were "full" of crushed A4 sheets of paper at around half way through proceedings. Not only was this embarrasing to staff, but some of the voters who used these boxes wondered aloud whether their votes would be regarded as spoiled, due to their crushed state. I'm afraid I couldn't, with any confidence, alay their fears. Their were no "replacement" boxes, and no way to straighten out the couple of papers which created this problem.

  • 19.
  • At 10:06 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Louisa wrote:

The voting instructions would not stretch anyone with an average IQ capacity and upwards as long as those who needed them remembered to bring their reading glasses. So why the shock over the expected consequences of the natural distribution of the Bell Curve? It would have helped the dubious concept of our present 'democracy' to have had the local council election on a separate date. However, this debacle is only to be expected as predicted by the returning officers, Alex Salmond and other discerning others against the vaccuous and suspiciously exploitive thought processes of most Labour MSPs and their Liberal Wishywashocrat fairweather chums whose responsibility, along with the postal vote shambles, this shocking disenfranchisement rests with.

  • 20.
  • At 12:07 AM on 05 May 2007,
  • Rachel S wrote:

In the run up to the election, as a student voter, I have had difficulty engaging peers in conversation on the matter. People don't seem to appreciate the opportunity we have in voting, and frankly, with farcical counting processes and confusion running rife, I fail to see how my generation will be inspired to take part.

  • 21.
  • At 11:25 AM on 05 May 2007,
  • perfectly obvious wrote:

The problem was perfectly obvious. As I walked in the polling station there was an enlarged ballot paper for folks 'information' and a lady to explain.

At the top of the 'PARTY List' was 'Alex Salmond .... blah blah ... snp' and I said to the lady "That will confuse everyone!"

This election should be rerun and with parties having to list their party name on the party list and not be allowed to indulge in the primary school prank and skullduggery of putting AARDVARK or ALEX at the front in order to confuse folk and get at the head of the list.

Whoever is responsible for ensuring the names on the ballots are kosher has some explaining to do.

It's not a free democratic vote if 100,000 votes are void do to a deliberately confusing ballot paper!

  • 22.
  • At 12:38 AM on 06 May 2007,
  • Aileen wrote:

Whatever the problem with the election ballot system, the outcome has been a democratic disaster. If there are a 1000,000 or more spoiled votes then an apology and a possible inquiry is not enough.
The elected parliament can hardly be credible with so many people disenfranchised.
The Scotsman on Saturday stated "In about one in six constituencies, the number of spoiled votes was bigger than the successful candidate's winning margin." How can this be acceptable or considered democratic.
Scotland is now a laughing stock. There should be another election to restore confidence in the system. If nothing is done, then this farce will stain Scottish politcal life and politicians seen as only protecting their own self interest.

  • 23.
  • At 08:12 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • achnafearn wrote:

Make ERS show how the council vote was counted. The shambles in Inverness with the List vote was bad enough. Make ERS demonstrate how the seniority of those elected in each ward is recorded. To date the numbering of a voter's choices was good only for the first chosen, thereafter it was treated like the List vote then reported in alphabetical order. Gives none of the losers a clue about their standing within the ward, an essential for future representation.

Jackie Bird even suggested "vote all of them in order if you wish". A reasonable thing given the pre-election publicity

  • 24.
  • At 04:08 AM on 11 May 2007,
  • Michael McFarlane wrote:

Having voted in every election for nearly 50 years, local/national, and never encountering an over busy polling station, I can't understand how something so simple was made so chaotic by the incompetence of well paid, supposedly educated civil servants. Knowing beforehand about the potential for confusion, it must have been obvious that putting the counting machines in the polling stations where people could directly insert their papers, without making public how they voted, should have been the thing to do. Any papers the machine declared "spoilt" could then have been immediately destroyed by an official, and a replacement paper given to the person concerned. The smooth running of this simple process does not require a University Degree, only common sense.

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