Saturday vote mooted for referendum in bid to boost turnout

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By a Newsnet reporter

The Scottish Government are reported to be considering holding the independence referendum on a Saturday in a bid to encourage people to participate.
 
The news comes as a consultation document is about to be published which will set out the plans of Alex Salmond’s administration as it bids to persuade the electorate to back independence in the ballot to be held in the Autumn of 2014.

By a Newsnet reporter

The Scottish Government are reported to be considering holding the independence referendum on a Saturday in a bid to encourage people to participate.
 
The news comes as a consultation document is about to be published which will set out the plans of Alex Salmond’s administration as it bids to persuade the electorate to back independence in the ballot to be held in the Autumn of 2014.

Historically all elections in the UK, including referendums, have been held on Thursdays.  However it is thought that a Saturday ballot may boost voter turnout in what is the most important decision Scotland will make in over 300 years.

Along with the other proposals due to be disclosed in the consultation paper, the issue of Saturday voting will be up for public discussion.  Over recent decades there has been a decline in voter turnout in elections, and the SNP Government has pledged to ensure that as many on the Scottish electoral register as possible will have the opportunity to cast their votes.

The Scottish Government will now seek the opinions of the public, other political parties, and civic and business organisations throughout Scotland.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “We will set out our detailed proposals for running the referendum in the consultation document we are publishing on Wednesday, which will be entirely fair and people can judge them and submit their views.”

Weekday voting is unusual by international standards.  In many European countries votes are traditionally held on Sundays, a day when most people are off work and have time to attend the polling station. 

In the UK where elections are held during the working week, people working long hours and facing lengthy commutes can find it difficult to get to the polling station on time.

The proposal for a Saturday vote has met with the approval of some within the SNP.  SNP MSP Humza Yousaf welcomed the suggestiong saying:  

“This is an extremely interesting idea that could boost voter turnout.

“The vote on Scotland’s constitutional future will be one of the biggest decisions we will ever make as a country – it will be a truly historic day when people are given the chance to choose independence and equality for their country.

“That is why I welcome looking at options on how to boost the number of people who vote, and I look forward to hearing the details when the First Minister announces the consultation document on Wednesday.

“This document will give people the chance to judge the Scottish Government’s proposals and submit their views on how they want the referendum to be run.  But we firmly believe the referendum must be built in Scotland and the decision must be made by the people of Scotland.

“It will be a defining point in Scotland’s history so it is vital that those from all political sides in this country are given the best opportunity to come and make their voices heard.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “We are open to ideas to boost voter turnout and look forward to the Scottish Government’s consultation when it is published this week.  But with huge question marks over the SNP’s plans for defence and for future currency, we cannot allow the process debate to distract from the faltering case for independence.”

 

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