The SNP and Labour have reacted angrily to reports that the results of the Scottish Parliament elections in May face being delayed by over 36 hours because of the AV referendum.
The revelation centres around a discussion paper from the Interim Electoral Management Board which warns that 19 of Scotland’s 32 councils have opted to delay counting ballots until the day after the election due to the pressures of holding two polls on the same day.
SNP MSP Bob Doris reacted with anger when hearing of the possible delays to the Scottish election count.
Mr Doris said:
“It was bad enough last time having to wait until Friday evening before finding out who had won but with this AV referendum who knows how long we’ll have to wait.
“The Tory government should never have planned to hold their referendum on the same day as the elections for the Scottish Parliament, and for Cameron and Clegg’s plebiscite to delay the Scottish General Election is nothing short of outrageous.”
Mr Doris, who represents the Glasgow region, claimed that this was a referendum that nobody wanted and that it would only serve to ‘muddy the waters’.
“Everyone in Scotland recognises that the majority of decisions that affect them on a day to day basis take place at Holyrood and not in Westminster. Justice, Health, Education are all devolved to Scotland and is what the Scottish electorate care about most. It is a straight fight between this SNP Government and a lacklustre Labour party, there is no need to muddy the water with this referendum that no one really wants.”
Labour’s Iain Gray said there should be no delay to the count and insisted the laws on Scottish elections should be the same as for general elections.
Mr Gray said:
“People have the right to know who has won the election as fast as possible,”
He added: “There must be no delay in counting the ballot papers. That is the law for general elections, and it must be the law for Scottish elections too. But under this plan, we won’t know who is going to be First Minister until the weekend after polling day.”
The controversial decision to hold the AV referendum on the same day as the Scottish parliamentary elections has been attacked by critics who claim there is a real danger of the Scottish elections being overshadowed. They claim that the Scottish campaigns face being eclipsed as the media focus on an electoral system that is not even supported by any of the political parties.
The SNP has attacked the date choice and accused the Tory/Lib Dem coalition of working to a “disrespect agenda”.
The 2007 Holyrood election, overseen by the then Scottish Secretary Douglas Alexander, ended in chaos with 180,000 votes being discarded. The resultant Gould report advised that two different polls should never again be held on the same day.
Ballot paper campaign
The anger caused by holding the AV poll on the same day as the Holyrood election has led to Bella Caledonia spearheading a campaign to have voters spoil their AV ballot paper by writing the word ‘independence’ across it.
This campaign will seek to highlight a democratic deficit whereby Scots are given a referendum in a subject they have little interest in but denied a referendum, by all 3 Unionist parties, on independence which is demanded by a significant majority of Scots whether they are for or against independence.