Electoral mess in Scotland…

If Labour get back in in Scotland, the first mess they will have to clear up is of their own making: the huge mess of an electoral system they chose to bring in. The BBC is speculating that up to 100,000 (10%) votes were spoilt. Two systems on one paper has clearly had a devastating effect. Final results expect at 4pm…

  • Prince Eoghan

    There were three different votes and three different systems of voting, a sure fire recipe for disaster no matter how simple.

    Where we voted a worker took us aside and spent over a minute explaining the voting system to us. Nothing was rushed and there was the opportunity for questions. In Shettleston there was several thousand spoiled vote, I believe many older people might have got muddled up with it all. In most other constituencies there was over a thousand spoiled papers. Far, far more than there should have been.

    Whatever the final result there has been a sea change in the voting patterns of Scots. Despite an unscrupulous scare-mongering media campaign the SNP have probably beaten labour in the popular vote and possibly (hopefully) in seats.

  • Forecast

    Ha
    The Jocks can not even get the voting for their hugely over budget white elephant right. What hope have they as a viable independant entity.

    Recipe for disaster………….

  • Teach

    Serious questions need to be answered about this election farce.From the electronic faults to the spoiled votes.What alarms me was the most was the fact that in quite a few constituencies the spoiled votes outnumbered the the number of votes some parties won by.So if the votes hadn’t been spoiled would they have actually won ?

    And then we can’t forget things like the loony in Edinburgh who fancied a game of golf,except he decided to play with ballot boxes , instead of golfballs.Though I do believe the policeman who arrested him said he did have a good back-swing…..;)

    Oh and what about the ferry carrying the votes from Arran that broke down and was adrift at sea !

    It seem like everything that could go wrong has went wrong !

    But like Prince was saying,it was the same at my polling station.Someone was at the entrance to explain how the ballot paper worked and even when you went and got your ballot papers they asked again if you understood everything or whether you wanted help on how the voting worked.Then you also had instructions on how to fill out your ballot paper on top of each of the sheets you marked your vote on.Personaly I think it was the fact we were using both numbers and X’s to mark down who we were voting for,that got people confused.

  • Valenciano

    Generally it’s best to avoid having two elections on the same day which use different systems. They’ve got away with it in NI because STV is long established here but as its in its infancy in Scotland they should have had the two on different dates.

    I’ve been looking at the detailed STV results which sadly only seem to be available on two council pages.

    It’s clear from the Stirling council results that whoever programmed the counting machines needs to learn how STV works.

    Standard STV procedure used in both parts of Ireland and Malta and at some British Universities is that when a candidate has a surplus, it is only transferred when it can possibly make a difference to the order of the lower ranked candidates. In other words if someone has a ten vote surplus and the last two candidates are 100 votes apart, there’s absolutely no point in transferring the surplus as it makes no difference.

    Similarly when there are only two candidates left and one seat to be filled there’s no point whatsoever transferring the votes of the lowest candidate as the other candidate gets the seat anyway regardless of how many votes get transferred to him.

    However looking at many of the Stirling results, it seems that no one told the people programming the counting machines. The Dunblane&Bridge of
    Allan ward result for example (http://www.stirling.gov.uk/
    elections07dun.pdf) has a stage five where a candidates 13 vote surplus is transferred when the gap between the two bottom candidates is 30 votes.

    It also has an entirely unnecessary stage 7 with a candidates 188 vote surplus transferred despite the fact that it can’t make a difference to the results as there was a 540 vote gap between the final two candidates with one seat to be filled.

    Glancing through the other wards there’s an identical picture – completely unnecessary stages with surpluses tranferred unnecessarily / second last candidates eliminated when there’s only one seat to fill.

    If they can’t train their staff or programme machines to count STV properly then are they really surprised that ordinary voters have
    messed up so much?

  • Ian

    Didn’t the 2005 general election under first-past-the-post coincide with the NI local elections under PR? Yet the NI electorate managed not to get confused about voting under two different systems on the same day.

    If people in Scotland can’t understand and follow simple instructions then why should we be too concerned about the fact that they’ve disenfranchised themselves?

  • Valenciano

    Teach, however apparently the BBC had an interview with a voter who was told by some of the count centre staff that if they only wanted to vote for one local election candidate they could simply put an x beside them. While this is generally acceptable, apparently under the rules this counts as a spoiled ballot!!

  • Teach

    To tell you the truth I’m not that surprised , especially after the way it has went so far !

  • Valenciano

    Ian: “Didn’t the 2005 general election under first-past-the-post coincide with the NI local elections under PR? Yet the NI electorate managed not to get confused about voting under two different systems on the same day.”

    Big difference. STV had by that point been in use for over 30 years in NI so people knew what they had to do, it was making its debut in Scotland and should have been done seperately. Also, Westminster only involved one ballot paper for first past the post – the Scots general involves two ballot papers for FPTP *and* list! I’m not surprised that many got confused by it all.

    Hopefully the whole farce will make the ever inept NI head of elections think twice about his desire to introduce it locally!

  • Prince Eoghan

    Forecast and Ian.

    You guys aren’t reading your masters script. The Scots are supposed to be thrifty, the Welsh always singing and poor Paddy, the Englishman’s burden and all that. Eedjits.

    Valenciano is probably correct in that the MACHINES and the STAFF running them were mostly to blame. There was also broken helicopters and fog to contend with. Although why you half-wits cant recognise that running three different votes using three different voting systems (one for third time, one for first time) might just lead to some confusion.

    Teach.

    Despite some great wins all over Scotland the SNP came up short in the west S. west. Do you think a corner has been turned? especially taking into account the blanket negative written media coverage they had to face.

  • Teach

    No I don’t.

  • Look, face it folks, we are just plain smarter than the Scotchies!!!

    Seriously though, the reducing quota, which is an innovation currently in vogue in the Electoral Reform Society, is what made it difficult to count the Scottish council ballots by hand. However, it materially affects very few results. Scrap it. Use the ‘Senatorial System’ of counting as used here and for Seanad Elections in the South. And train the bloody officials properly as well!!!

    The other big problem in Scotland was the scanning of ballot papers. I was an election agent for a few wards in the City of Westminster last year which was a pilot of an all electronic count of scanned ballot papers, just as was the case in Scotland last night.

    Unlike Scotland, all our machines worked fine, and the count proceeded smoothly and transparently. I was impressed that, unlike in some previous trials of electronic counting, serious thought had been given to ensuring the count was open and ballot-stuffing well nigh impossible.

    But!!!!!!!!! I didn’t see any real advantage in speed or accuracy over paper counting. I spent hours standing at a disputed papers table nodding through perfectly valid votes which had been rejected by the machine for some reason (usually because the polling clerk hadn’t torn it off absolutely 100% neatly). They were all, of course, accepted and counted but what a waste of my time and that of the deputy presiding officer. And my poor bloody legs afterwards!!! The only benefit I saw to it was for the computer executives (and very impressive people they were) who were making money out of it.

    Traditional paper and pencil ballots counted in the way they traditionally have been in these islands virtually eliminated ballot stuffing in the late 19th Century and made sure it hasn’t happened since (personation is a different matter). There is no, repeat NOOOOOOOO, reason to change it except to provide the Electoral Commission, which we need about as much as a chicken needs roller-skates, with a function.

    More broadly, I think that secure elections in the UK are threatened by two things – one being the desire to make voting as ‘easy’ as possible, which means the secret ballot is already history for thousands of Asian women whose husbands steal their postal vote thanks to easy-access postal voting. If you think I’m exaggerating, you’ve never been involved in an election in the East End of London.

    If you can’t be bothered to walk 10 minutes (and it’s rarely more than that in an urban area) to the polling station, you don’t deserve the vote. Postal votes are fine for those genuinely housebound, on holiday, studying away from home or working awkward shifts. The rest of us should have to go to the polling station.

    The second threat is the obsession with using electronic gimmicks in the counting procedure. They are a waste of money, a waste of time and are often introduced without real thought to how they impact on checks and balances carefully worked out over decades to ensure the count process is fair and seen by all to be fair. E.g. – asking voters not to fold their ballot paper to ease the job of counting machines is absolutely and utterly disgraceful. I take great pleasure in ignoring that instruction.

    The only people who benefit from this are the companies who implement the solution.

    Oh, and did I mention that the Electoral Commission has no real function and ought to be wound up?

  • kensei

    “Despite some great wins all over Scotland the SNP came up short in the west S. west. Do you think a corner has been turned? especially taking into account the blanket negative written media coverage they had to face.”

    Browsing over the results on the BBC, it looks like in some places at least, Conservative and Liberal votes went to keep the SNP out – the Labour vote has actually risen.

    I think in the long run, it is possible it’d be good for the SNP if Labour just hang on. People tend to get weary of the governments eventually, and mistakes and fatigue catch up with them. If things are a wee bit too cosy with London, the SNP might be able to capitalise too. They’ve moved a lot of seats within reach, and it might spectacularly tip next time.

  • K McLaughlin

    Re. posting above by ‘Forecast’.
    If you had done a bit of checking before spewing before spewing your anti Scottish bile, you would have realised that the conduct and funding of these elections is a reserved matter so the blame for the screw up should not be laid at Scotland’s door but Westminster’s, in the person of a unionist NL klutz who answers to the name of Alexander.

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    Seems like they could’ve done with a few lessons from PR Pete…

    No doubt the primary concern when planning the elections for the same day was cost-saving not clarity for the voters.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Teach.

    Why??????? You not talking to me or somethin ;¬)

    Kensei.

    Not so sure about that. They are really unpopular yet many die-hards who will always vote labour regardless never moved, and I believe probably never will sadly. Also it seemed the scare tactics worked, in fact I know they did from speaking to some people. I admit to being concerned at the level to which people in this survey pre-election were convinced Scotland couldn’t survive financially.

    http://www.yougov.com/archives/pdf/STI070101005_1.pdf

    A proper look at the facts would tell you this isn’t the case. However your ordinary man in the street having the PM, chancellor, FM and various important hoi poloi telling you the opposite is bound to have an effect.

    Sammy.

    You made a great prediction of chaos and how close it would be on another thread. Even now the BBC have announced the capture of two seats from the Lib-Dem’s but it is still too close to call who will win overall.

  • Teach

    Of course I’m talking…Was heading out to the chippy,hence the short answer….Black pudding supper with curry sause in case you’re interested…..;)

    Anyway if the SNP had took more off of Labour then I would agree but since,even in the constituencies where they lost,Labour polled the same or in some cases more votes than they had before,I don’t.So the SNP have been getting their extra votes at the expense of the other smaller parties like the SSP etc,etc.Which brings to mind the point I raised in another thread about the SSP supporter I was talking to who said he was going to vote SNP as a ‘means to an end’!

    Personally I would like to see more than one main large nationalist party to give a better choice.I just don’t trust the SNP especially with the way they have refused to go into detail about things like their economic policies until after the election.When parties do things like that, especially as it’s such an important issue,even more so if their aim is independence , it does get me wondering why,what have they got to hide ?

  • Jocky

    Aye well, that it 47-46 to the SNP, looks like the ehadline writers might have to do a bit of overtime. It all adds up to a big GIRUY Tony Blair

  • Prince Eoghan

    I’ve got it 45 – 43 SNP with 7 to go.

    For the first time EVER the SNP have won seats in Auld reekie and Glesga at a general election. They are also on course to win the largest share of the vote. Also by and large Labour are only down 5% in the west and have in odd places increased admittedly. However there have been big swings against them in the west and all over Scotland. They just held onto Airdrie for goodness sake, unthinkable previously.

    There was a viable alternative Nationalist party in the SSP, who I suspect have had their tea. I honestly do not understand what you mean by saying the SNP have refused go into detail about things like their economic policies until after the election. To quote another commentator;

    ‘that is plain wrong’

    SNP have WON YEE HA 47 – 46

  • dodrade

    All depends on the Liberal Democrats now.

    SNP + Lib Dem + Greens = 65.

    Labour + Lib Dems = 62, three short of a majority but Labour has run Wales with a minority government, it might be manageable.

    A SNP minority government is alo possible, but would have no chance of holding an independence referendum.

  • dodrade

    Additionally an SNP/Lib Dem/Green coalition could rely on Margo McDonald’s support.

    Can anyone tell me if Scotland has fixed terms?

    If not I can’t see an SNP minority government lasting four years. They will have a very hard time pushing their agenda through on their own.

    If it is an SNP minority government then like 1992 I suspect this may have been a good election for Labour to lose.

  • They will have a very hard time pushing their agenda through on their own.

    Independence – yes. Other things – they can probably rely on the either LibDems and Greens or the Tories on just about every issue.

  • Teach

    There was a viable alternative Nationalist party in the SSP, who I suspect have had their tea. I honestly do not understand what you mean by saying the SNP have refused go into detail about things like their economic policies until after the election. To quote another commentator;

    ‘that is plain wrong’

    I wouldn’t say the ssp were a viable alternative.On the economic polices surely if you’ve voted for SNP you would have check and read what they have been saying on their polices ? But in case you haven’t I’ll give you an example.They have proposed to increase our income tax by 3 pence and our national insurance by 7 pence to pay for their policies.But a leading economist in Scotland(funny enough one they have used repeatedly themselves)said their figures did not add up and it would leave a black hole average of around £5000 for each family in Scotland.The SNP have so far refused to say how they will fill this black hole.Which personally I find a bit worrying to say the least !

  • Prince Eoghan

    LOL Teach!

    Your day has come and gone. Better luck next time eh!

    One minute you say they have refused to go into detail, the next lo and behold you are producing some detail from them, can’t have it both ways. And the scary tactics won’t work with me auld son. It’s over we won ;¬)

  • Teach

    Dodging where the £5000 per family will come from is hardly going into detail ! Scotland’s growth and economy is far from a fixed entity on the day of voting.So saying things like it’s over we’ve won.Not only shows you condescending attitude to the future of Scotland but also shows the type of person you are.It’s a totally stupid thing to say,we were not in any kind of competition between each another.And the only thing that wins or loses is Scotland as a nation.And that question has yet to be answered !

    As far as the scare tactic accusation goes,that even more stupid,the elections are by why would I even try to implement any scare tactics,it would be pointless.What I do want are answers to very serious questions that will affect the whole of Scotland not matter who you voted for and if you really cared about Scotland you would want them to !

  • Prince Eoghan

    Teach

    Grow up these scare stories never worked during the election why should they now. Repeating the 5K per family nonsense is straight out of Labour propoganda *ahem* election leaflet’s. Besides you’ll get your chance again in the 2010 referendum to scare the people. Better luck next time eh!

    Your sour puss is showing chum! Apart from the vote spoiling scandal. This is a great victory for Scotland and especially for Scottish democracy.

  • Forecast

    K McLaughlin – ‘Re. posting above by ‘Forecast’.
    If you had done a bit of checking before spewing before spewing your anti Scottish bile,’

    So bilious was I that I vomited twice?

  • Teach

    Teach

    Grow up these scare stories never worked during the election why should they now. Repeating the 5K per family nonsense is straight out of Labour propoganda *ahem* election leaflet’s. Besides you’ll get your chance again in the 2010 referendum to scare the people. Better luck next time eh!

    Your sour puss is showing chum! Apart from the vote spoiling scandal. This is a great victory for Scotland and especially for Scottish democracy.

    Posted by Prince Eoghan on May 05, 2007 @ 10:01 AM

    The £5000 per family is just one of many things I want the answers to.Incidently The £5000 per family question as I stated earlier actually came from an economist the SNP uses not Labour ! Being concerned for Scotland and it’s future is something we should all be doing no matter who we vote for.Turning to personal insults and false accusations do nothing to prove your point in fact they just totally dodge the issues I want to discuss like our economy etc,etc

  • Teach

    The £5000 per family is just one of many points I want answers to.Incidently the £5000 per family point came from an economist the SNP use not Labour.Your personal insults and false accusations do nothing to back up your view.If fact the only thing they allow you to do is dodge the important issues for Scotland that I was talking about.No matter who you voted for these issues need answers as they are going to affect all of us in Scotland.Stick to the issues instead of trying to insult me ! At least try and have an honest open debate without resorting to silly childish insults