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Glenrothes election report published

Published: 24 Feb 2009

A report published today by the Electoral Commission has found that the Glenrothes by-election was well run in difficult circumstances. The report also welcomes an investigation by the Scottish Courts Service into the loss of the marked register by the Sheriff Clerk.

The election took place during the annual canvass, potentially complicating the process of registration for voters, and this was also the first election in Scotland where the Returning Officer was required to check absent vote identifiers - security measures introduced to make postal voting more secure.

Andy O'Neill, Head of the Electoral Commission in Scotland, said: "All stages of the election from registration of electors to the counting of votes went smoothly despite many challenges faced by the electoral administrators responsible for running the poll. Fife Council also ran an extensive campaign to get people registered to vote, even though there were only seven working days between the writ being moved and the deadline for registering."

For the first time electors in Scotland had to supply a signature and date of birth when applying for a postal vote and again when they come to vote. These identifiers were checked by the Returning Officer when a postal ballot paper was returned by the voter. By law, the Returning Officer only had to check 20 percent of these identifiers and in line with Electoral Commission guidance the Glenrothes Returning Officer decided to check 100 percent. The Commission has also recommended that 100 percent of identifiers are checked for this years European Parliamentary elections on 4 June.

So that electors have more time to register and administrators have more time to prepare for elections, the Commission's report recommends that the timetable for UK Parliamentary elections be extended to 25 working days instead of the current minimum of 15.

After the election it emerged that the marked register (details of all those registered in the election and whether or not they voted, but not how they voted) had been lost by the Sheriff's Clerk after it was handed over by the Returning Officer. Andy O'Neill added: "Were concerned at the loss of these documents and welcome assurances from the Scottish Courts Service that they are investigating the matter fully. Access to the marked register is important to ensuring transparency and every step should be taken to ensure this does not happen again."

The report also welcomes proposals in the Political Parties and Elections Bill currently before Parliament to give the Returning Officer responsibility for looking after such documents.

The report by the Commission covers each stage of the administration of the by-election and is available to view on the Commissions website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/publications-and-research/election-reports.

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Lynne Veitch or Ian Caldwell at Pagoda PR on 0131 556 0770 / 07703 258834

E-mail: elections@pagodapr.com

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UKs democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections.
  2. The Electoral Commission was given the discretion to report on the administration of by-elections to the UK Parliament by the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (EAA). This report, on the Glenrothes UK Parliamentary by-election that took place on 6 November 2008, is the third such report.
  3. The Commission will later this year publish a report on the administration of the June 4 European Parliamentary elections.
  4. A full copy of the report (The Glenrothes UK Parliamentary by-election: Report on the administration of the 6 November 2008 by-election) is available from the Commission's website.

Journalist