Scottish council elections well-run, but still too many votes discounted

Scottish council elections well-run, but still too many votes discounted

Voters in Scotland are confident the council elections in May were well-run, with the vast majority satisfied with the process of voting and registering to vote. However, according to a report published today by the Electoral Commission, too many voters in some council wards had their ballots rejected for being incorrectly completed.

While the Commission found that the rate of rejected ballots had declined across Scotland since the 2017 council elections (from 1.96% in 2017 to 1.85% in 2022), in some council wards it had increased, with the highest rejection rate found in Glasgow Canal ward at 5.64%.

The majority of ballots rejected were as a result of voters not numbering the candidates in order of preference. Many had marked an ‘X’ against more than one candidate.

Sue Bruce, Electoral Commissioner for Scotland said:

“Voter confidence in elections remains high, thanks to the dedicated work of election teams across Scotland. However, further action is needed to ensure everyone understands how to complete their ballot paper so their vote can count. We will be taking forward urgent targeted work with the electoral community to trial new approaches to tackling voter information at council elections.”

Nearly all voters (97%) reported being satisfied with the process of voting. However, the resilience of electoral administration teams remains a concern, with many councils reporting challenges in recruiting polling station staff. While campaigners reported that they felt able to communicate effectively with voters, some candidates reported experiences of intimidation and abuse at these elections.

Ends

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

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, focussing 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.

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK, Scottish and Welsh parliaments.

  1. The Commission has a statutory responsibility to report on the administration of the Scottish council elections. Read our report on the May 2022 elections in Scotland.
  2. The Commission has today also published the following reports: