More than one million postal voters registered in Scotland

More than one million postal voters registered in Scotland

With the postal vote application deadline now passed in Scotland, provisional figures from Scotland’s Electoral Registration Officers show that 1,010,638 voters are now registered to vote by post at the Scottish Parliament election on 6 May. This accounts for nearly one quarter of the electorate (23.8%) and is the highest number ever registered for a postal vote in Scotland.

Postal voting packs will begin to be issued to registered postal voters across Scotland from tomorrow (14 April) and must be returned by 10pm on Thursday 6 May for the votes to count.

Malcolm Burr, Convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland said:
“We can’t count any votes that come back to us after 10pm on 6 May so if you have a postal vote make sure you send it back in plenty of time. If you do leave it late then you can drop your completed pack at your local polling place on election day.”

As well as marking their ballot papers, postal voters must also complete and return a statement with their date of birth and signature. These are checked against the ones they provided when they first applied for the postal vote and is an important measure to keep their vote safe.

Andy O’Neill, Head of the Electoral Commission in Scotland said:
“With many people voting by post for the first time this May, it’s really important that they follow the instructions in their postal ballot pack to make sure their vote can count. Half of all postal votes rejected at the last UK general election were because the signature or date of birth did not match their application, so extra care needs to be taken when filling in these parts of the postal voting statement.”

While the postal vote deadline has now passed, it is still possible to apply for a proxy vote where a voter can appoint someone they trust to cast their vote. The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm on Tuesday 27 April. More information is available at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/voter   

How does postal voting work?

  • After the deadline for nominations has passed, ballot papers are produced and printed. Those who have applied will then be sent a postal voting pack. 
  • When applying for a postal vote, voters must provide their signature and date of birth. Postal ballot packs will contain a postal voting statement, which require voters to again provide their signature and date of birth. These will be checked against each other to ensure that the postal vote has been returned by the elector it was issued to. 
  • Once completed, voters should return their postal vote to their local council. To be counted it must be with them by 10pm on polling day. 
  • Completed postal votes should be returned by the voter only, or someone they trust. Candidates, party workers or campaigners should not handle postal votes. 
  • Returned postal vote packs will be opened and the signatures and dates of birth on the postal voting statement checked by Returning Officers and their teams before polling day. Postal vote ballots are kept safe and are never counted before the close of polls on election day. 

Ends
For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 0131 225 0211, out of office hours 07789 920 414 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk


The Electoral Commission has produced two animations to explain the postal vote process which can be used by the media:
Completing your postal vote
What happens after I have returned my postal vote?
 

Notes to editors

1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, 
  • aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

2. The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK, Scottish and Welsh Parliaments.
3. The Electoral Management Board for Scotland has a key role in delivering electoral events in Scotland.  Returning Officers and Deputes, and Electoral Registration Officers drawn from across the country lead and support their colleagues to coordinate elections and referendums  to give results in which the voter can have full confidence. 
4. Provisional postal voting figures have been compiled by Scotland’s 15 Electoral Registration Officers and may be subject to small fluctuations ahead of the poll. 
5. At the last Scottish Parliament election in 2016 there were 726,555 registered postal voters amounting to 17.7% of the electorate.