Scottish Parliament Political Parties Panel minutes: 4 March 2021

Who was at the meeting

John Hardy, Scottish Green Party (Chair)

Matt Edmonds, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Scott Martin, Scottish National Party

Lorraine Reid, Scottish National Party

Paul Moat, Scottish Liberal Democrats

Fiona O'Donnell, Scottish Labour Party

Isabel Drummond-Murray, Scottish Boundary Commissions

Penelope Curtis, Scottish Government

Maria McCann, Scottish Government

Iain Hockenhull, Scottish Government

James Newman, Scottish Government

Chris Highcock, Electoral Management Board for Scotland

Pete Wildman, Scottish Assessors Association (Chair of Electoral Registration Committee)

Helena Brice, Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland

Rachel Winham, Royal Mail

Superintendent Gerry Corrigan, Police Scotland

Dame Susan Bruce, Electoral Commissioner, Scotland

Alasdair Morgan, Electoral Commissioner

Andy O'Neill, Head of Electoral Commission, Scotland

Sarah Mackie, Manager, Electoral Commission, Scotland

Martin McKeown, Senior Adviser, Elections & Campaigners, Scotland

Catherine Heggie, Partnersips & Information Officer, Scotland

Lindsey Hamilton, Business Support Officer (Minutes)

Malcolm Burr, Electoral Management Board for Scotland

Minutes of the last meeting

Subject to clarification amendments submitted by Isabel Drummond-Murray the minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 January 2021 were approved.

Royal Mail update

Rachel Winham (RW) commented on performance concerns from stakeholders but assured all that postal votes and election materials were a priority and contingency plans were in place. Priority mailboxes were emptied two to three times a day and managers would make sure mail with purple flashes were pulled out. There was also Sunday working. She said candidate mail could be tracked through the network and would be delivered by day 3 for addressed and day 7 for unaddressed with an update provided to any party. Final sweep information would be going out to EROs soon. She said they would be sending out packs with details of their guide and election sort details and asked to send out to candidates after close of nominations and particularly to help with Independent candidates. A meeting with parties’ printers had taken place and one to one meetings about a party’s mailing could be held. Pete Wildman (PW) reported that as at 1 March, 770,000 postal votes had been registered and the number was climbing daily. He could not give a definitive figure now but said it would be in excess of that. ACTION: AON said he would send Rachel Winham the Electoral Commission research.

SM asked if there was an indication on uptake of postal votes at recent by elections. PW reported pre by election postal vote levels of 13.6% in the Borders which rose to 22%, an increase of 8.4% where normally would only see 1% increase. In December, postal vote demand was 16.6% and now was just over 18%. He predicted that figure would change and people do leave it to the last minute to apply.