Wednesday, 27 October 2010
A Change for the Good
Since the 2007 Scottish Parliament election I've protested about the use of electronic counting machines being used in future elections. The 2007 fiasco, which used these machines, saw almost 150,000 ballot paper spoiled - the largest number of rejected ballots in UK electoral history.
Under the new Scottish Parliament (Elections Etc) Order 2010 new measures have included abandoning the human-programmed machines and decided to return to human hand counting. A good move.
An opportunity was missed though because the postal voting system also requires some scrutiny. Postal votes should only be available for those who are completely unable to make it to their local polling station or those who are not in the country on polling day. With the introduction of companies like this one, postal voting has become a major part of our election process and it's now in the interests of political parties to have big numbers using the system.
Other changes to be introduced for the Scottish elections next May include:
* The reintroduction of separate ballot papers for the constituency and regional votes.
* A longer period - extended by an additional seven working days - between the close of nominations and the election which, it is hoped, will improve the way posta votes are handled.
* Registered party names to appear first on the regional ballot paper followed by the party description, with the option to use the preface 'Scottish'.
The result of an inquiry into the failings of the 2007 Scottish elections concluded that the Scotland Office's decision to combine the names of constituency and regional candidates on a single ballot paper was the main reason for the spoiled papers. As the Westminster government seems to be intent upon having its voting reform referendum on the same day as the Scottish elections, I wonder if it will be the excuse for any mess next May.