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Scottish Elections 2007: SNP makes large gains.

by ManfromMiddletown Fri May 4th, 2007 at 04:30:33 AM EST

With early results coming in from Scotland, it appears that Alex Salmond will be the next First Minister. Early this morning he announced to supporters that the winds of change are sweeping Scotland. And while SNP gains make it highly likely that Salmond will be able to emerge as First Minister with LibDem support, electoral irregularities have created some contreversy.

The Guardian is reported that some irregularities might change the outcome of races.

You couldn't make it up. The big story of the Scottish elections isn't the success of the SNP but the chaos of the count.

The Fife count has "ground to a halt" due to data overload. Ballot papers in East Kilbride are being rescanned and there is an indefinite delay.

There have been calls for an inquiry by the electoral commission into the high number of spoiled ballot papers. In Anniesland, 7.2% were rejected. In Glasgow Kelvin, the number of spoiled papers was larger than the Labour majority, and it was the same story in Airdrie and Shotts. On average 5% of ballot papers have been spoiled.

Update: The Guardian now reports the Tories are questioning the credibility of the election on word that the number of spoilt ballots exceeds the vote margin in several key seats. In Glasgow one constituency returned with more than 10% of the ballots invalidated. From the diaries ~ whataboutbob


The Scotsman is reporting that up to 100,000 ballots may be discarded due to unclear markings made by voters.

A huge number of papers were rejected by returning officers all over the country, apparently because, in many cases, voters had not filled them out properly.

Early estimates suggested that as many as 100,000 ballot papers might have been rejected by the time the final votes are counted this afternoon.

David Cairns, the Scotland Office minister, promised an inquiry into a situation which Mr Salmond derided as "totally unacceptable" and "deeply mistaken".

Initial indications seemed to suggest that many voters did not understand the new voting forms, putting more than one cross on each of the ballot papers.

The Guardian has an excellent Flash map up showing wins and losses.  

As of 5:49 BST the Scotsman lists the following wins and losses

Labour: 28

Constituencies: 28
Airdrie & Shotts, Clydebank & Milngavie, Coatbridge & Chryston, Clydesdale, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth, Cunninghame South, Dumbarton, Dumfries, Dunfermline East; East Kilbride, East Lothian, Glasgow Anniesland, Glasgow Baillieston, Glasgow Cathcart, Glasgow Kelvin, Glasgow Maryhill, Glasgow Pollok, Glasgow Rutherglen, Glasgow Shettleston, Glasgow Springburn, Hamilton North & Bellshill, Hamilton South, Kirkcaldy, Midlothian, Motherwell & Wishaw, Paisley North, Paisley South, West Renfrewshire

SNP: 17

Constituencies: 13
Aberdeen North, Angus, Banff & Buchan, Dundee East, Dundee West (SNP gain), Fife Central (SNP gain), Glasgow Govan (SNP gain), Gordon (SNP gain), Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Kilmarnock & Loudon, Moray, Ochil, Stirling (SNP gain)
Glasgow Region: 4

Conservatives: 5

Constituencies: 4
Ayr, Edinburgh Pentlands, Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, Roxburgh & Berwickshire
Glasgow Region: 1

Lib Dems: 10

Constituencies: 9
Aberdeen North, Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine, Caithness Sutherland & Easter Ross, Dunfermline West (Lib Dem gain), Fife North East, Orkney, Ross, Skye & Inverness West, Shetland, Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale
Glasgow Region: 1

SSP: 0

Greens: 1

Glasgow Region: 1
Solidarity: 0
SSCUP: 0
Others: 0

Display:
Thanks for this, mfm!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 03:00:37 AM EST
So, what happens if the irregularities are deemed significant enough (and they seem rather significant to me)? Would there be a procedure for declaring the results invalid and calling for a new election?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 04:58:37 AM EST
No.

The UK is USA-Lite, so there will be some tutting and some huffing and puffing, no one will mention hanging chads, the count will be verified and the SNP won't get an overall majority.

If someone important gets really excited about this, there will be an enquiry, which will make recommendations, which will mostly be ignored.

I'm slightly baffled as to why 100,000 people decided to spoil their papers.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 05:28:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a few deliberately spoiled papers. Most probably just got it wrong.

I'm interested in who gets into bed with who.

The LibDems say they'll talk to the ones who get the most seats, and that looks like a close call right now..

My bet is on an SNP/Lib Dem "partnership" possibly plus Greens.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 05:32:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found my postal ballot - we no longer have a polling station in the area - almost incomprehensible.

The chances of the proverbial pensioner being able to make sense of it seemed minimal.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 05:39:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we no longer have a polling station in the area

You've got to be kidding me.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 05:44:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are 27 houses and something like 50 people in this hamlet, including maybe 10 kids of non-voting age.

I don't object to a postal ballot if the logistics make it poor value. But I do mind if the postal process is overcomplicated.

Is it gerrymandering or incompetence? Hard to say. The case for the prosecution is that move to postal voting was introduced after the council gained a solid Tory majority. And the form really was designed incredibly badly.

But for the defence, the main towns still have polling stations, and I'd guess the votes from a few villages won't swing a seat unless voting is extremely close - which it usually isn't out here.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 09:33:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same here, We have to travel to the next village to vote. For some strange reason theres a lump in our county border which is the opposite side of the river to the rest of the county so we all have to travel to the local hall next to the bridge in the centre, even togh there areother halls which are closer. If the polling station was in our vilage, then people a hundred yards from the hall would still have a three  mile trip to their polling station, as they are in a seperate county.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:26:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it not possible to have court challenges in those constituencies where the majority is narrowed than the number of spoilt ballots?

Is it not possible to challenge the party-list seats if the number of spoilt ballots is larger than the margin by which the last seat was allocated?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 05:36:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know. But if it is, I suspect it's expensive and not something to be done casually without impressive financial backing.

My (unresearched) understanding is that the returning officer's word is final. Candidates can demand a recount if the result is very close - and sometimes do - but a court challenge is unlikely.

I don't remember such a thing happening in the UK.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 05:44:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that to get a re-vote, you would have to show some form of active electoral fraud. If the spoilt ballots were shown to be otherwise almost entirely votes from one party, or all to be from one particular area which would tend to vote in a particular way.  If you just showed that a percentage of voters were confused by the ballot papers, then the courts aren't likely to go for it.  After all what party would want to go to court and claim that their supporters are unfairly disadvantaged because they are stupid?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 08:22:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the same rules apply as for Westminster elections, mistakes by the Returning Officer which might have affected the result can lead to a new election. There was a famous election in Winchester where the LibDem victory, with a majority of two, was set aside and a new vote held.

However there is no provision for re-voting because electors misunderstood the instructions.

This will of course be used as an excuse to attack the principle of proportional representation. Perhaps the lesson should be that we should adopt one system of PR and use it for all elections instead of having a different one for each type of election (especially if more than one is used on the same day).

by Gary J on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:03:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the lesson should be that we should adopt one system of PR and use it for all elections instead of having a different one for each type of election...

When first read I expanded "PR" to "Public Relations."

The sentence works either way, I suppose, depending on one's basic snark level.  

;-)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:11:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is this public relations of which you speak? For electoral reformers PR means only proportional representation.
by Gary J on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 01:15:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only that my brain has been destroyed by too many marketing meetings.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 01:26:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Latest is Labour 43, SNP 45, LibDems 16, Conservatives 15 and Greens 2, Independent (Margo McDonald = SNP) 1.

That's with all the 73 "First Past the Post" Constituencies declared.

Then there are 7 out of 8 regions where second votes count in regional "lists" of candidates, with another 49 seats decided and 5 more to go.

Given that the remaining region is (I think!) a rural one where Labour tends to trail, I think we are going to see SNP about three or four seats ahead of Labour with Margo McDonald adding one to SNP de facto.

Interesting.

No-one would cut a deal with the Conservatives: period. So that puts the LibDems in as "Kingmakers".

They have said they'll talk first to the party with the most seats. That's the SNP, and if he can't agree  terms with them I think LibDems leader Nichol Stephens could ask for the post of First Minister as the price of leaving Labour in power.

He has said that he will not back SNP if they are committed to a referendum on Independence, so we can expect some creativity between Alex Salmond (who would not give up the post of First Minister to God himself) and Stephens - maybe along the lines of a Constitutional Convention or similar, with a vote scheduled to a coincide with the next election.

The last region should come in any time (I've had to update this twice before even posting it!)

Interesting times.

Biggest losers? The fringe parties, particularly the Greens.

Winners? The SNP of course, but I bet Nichol Stephens will have a big smile on his face when he goes to bed tonight as well.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:56:56 PM EST
Last results in and SNP shade it by one seat, 47 to 46: Conservatives 17; Lib Dems 16.

I clearly underestimated the propensity of Highlands and Islands to vote Labour.....

But everything else I said stands..

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 01:08:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Wikipedia entry has been updated continuously through-out the day. Currently the results are as follows:
SNP: 47
Labour: 46
Tories: 17
LibDems: 16
Greens: 2
Socialists: 0
Solidarity: 0
Independents: 1
An SNP+LibDem+Green government is possible with the narrowest possible margin: 65 out of 129 seats.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:58:23 PM EST


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