Decision Maker Response

The Electoral Commission & Police Scotland’s response

The Electoral Commission & Police Scotland

Sep 26, 2014 — The following response has been submitted by the Electoral Commission

The administration of the referendum on independence was under the remit of the Chief Counting Officer, Mary Pitcaithly. Logistical arrangements, such as those in place for the polling and counting of votes, are the responsibility of the Counting Officer for each local counting area.

Please be assured that there are several stages of the process at which the ballot papers used are quality checked by local Counting Officers and their staff. Part of this quality checking includes ensuring that the unique identifying mark is present on each ballot paper. These checks are carried out:

• During the printing process.
• Prior to the ballot papers leaving the elections office for the counting area, when the ballot papers are allocated to each polling station.
• At the polling station, before the poll opens, when ballot books are put in numerical order. The numbers on the back of the ballot paper are checked against those on the corresponding numbers list. Ballot papers on which there are errors are not issued.
• At the polling station, when the polling staff issue the ballot paper to each elector.

It is also worth noting that, in the extremely unlikely event that a ballot paper is issued, completed and placed in the ballot box and does not have a unique identifying number on the reverse, it will still be included in the counting of votes and would not simply be rejected on these grounds. There are measures in place to ensure that each ballot paper counted in the referendum was a validly cast vote, but the presence of the unique identifying number is not one of these. Therefore, please be assured that even if you do not recall your ballot paper having a unique identifying number on the reverse, this would not cause your vote to be rejected when the votes were counted.

Additionally, representatives of the campaigners in the referendum also appointed polling agents and counting agents who could observe at polling stations and the count. None of the campaigners involved in observing in the referendum have raised concerns with us about ballot papers.

As stated above, responsibility for the conduct of the polling and counting of votes in the referendum lies with the Counting Officer for the local counting area. Consequently, any concerns you continue to have about how the polling or counting of votes was conducted should be raised with the relevant Counting Officer directly.

A process to challenge the result of the referendum is available to anyone by lodging a petition for judicial review with the Court of Session within 6 weeks of 19 September 2014.