Friday, May 04, 2007

Scottish Election Chaos

The Scottish Election results are still being counted. “A mess” is how one journalist put it. Transport problems, computers unable to process the ballot papers, and a huge number of spoilt papers, have caused massive delays.

Predictably, the system is being blamed. It was too complicated to have parliamentary and local elections the same day, we are told. No wonder there were so many spoilt papers! People didn’t understand what to do.

It’s typical that the system is being blamed rather than the irresponsibility of individual voters. At the polls, we were given two sheets of paper. The first was for the Parliamentary election. We knew this because it actually said so at the top of the sheet. On the apricot-coloured left half of the first sheet, we had to mark a single X against the party we favoured, and on the other, purple half of this sheet, a single X against the candidate we wanted to represent our constituency. Hard, eh? On the second sheet, we had to vote for our local councillor by writing numbers – 1 for the one we liked best, 2 against our second choice, and so on. Tough concept to grasp, eh?

The instructions for voting were pasted all over the polling stations. They were also clearly set out on the voting forms. DO NOT FOLD THE FORM – if anyone missed that, they must have been blind. The staff at the polling booth told me that if I didn’t understand anything they were on hand to answer any questions.

How hard is it to write a couple of Xs on one sheet and a few numbers on another? If people spoil their papers, they have only themselves to blame. There’s no reason to blame anyone or anything else.

At this moment, the result hangs in the balance – with 81 of the 129 seats declared, Labour are ahead with 32, the SNP have 29, the Lib Dems have 12, the Conservatives 7, the others 1. But still 48 results to come in…

5 comments:

Ewan Spence said...

Of course the instructions to "Do Not Fold" were on teh reverse, and were clearly visible after folding...

Rob said...

Heh...

Good point. And it illustrates an evil lack of logic that permeates UK bureaucracy at times.

But the instructions were pasted all over the walls of the polling station and inside each indìvidual booth as well - at least in the polling station I voted at.

scavella said...

Well, it must be the stars. The Bahamian election, held on Wednesday, had a similar set of challenges -- not with regard to the actual casting of votes, but with regard to the counting and reporting of the results. It was a very close election indeed. I'll make a point of posting that information on my blog.

apprentice said...

Human nature never fails to surprise.

I was shocked at Tory local authority gains in England, I hope that was a protest vote too.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall this weekend as the deals are hammered out. That's where PR gets murky.

Crafty Green Poet said...

It was probably easy for those of us with normal vision and a steady hand, but there were apparently real issues for people with poor manual dexterity and vision. Small boxes to draw the crosses in etc.