Postal voting in Indyref2 is still greatest concern

© Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/Press Association Images

From an information request and a response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, published on 25th Sep 2019:

Details of any briefings by civil servants or documents provided to ministers in 2017 or 2018 on the topic of a second independence referendum.

The single most common concern among 7 500 responses was:

Conduct of the poll. One of the most prevalent themes was concern about security and risk of electoral fraud. Respondents made suggestions about how they thought security arrangements could be tightened. There was a particular lack of confidence in postal voting. Respondents supported the proposal set out in the consultation paper requiring 100% checking of personal identifiers on all postal voting statements. There was also widespread agreement with the proposal in the consultation paper that the counting officer must not knowingly appoint or employ anyone who has been involved in campaigning during the referendum.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-18-02260-appeal/

These anxieties derive from dramatic events at the time of the vote in 2014:

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In the Guardian on 22nd September:

By mid-afternoon on Monday the number of names on change.org had topped 87,000. “We the undersigned demand a re-vote of the Scottish referendum, counted by impartial international parties,” reads the petition, which goes on to cite “countless evidences of fraud” documented during Thursday’s poll on independence.

At 38degrees.org.uk, a second petition had more than 62,000 signatories. “Investigate the vote counting procedures,” it demands. “Allow an independent re-count of all votes.”

https://www.theguardian.com › politics › sep › scottish-referendum-vote-ri…

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Later that year, the Sunday Post reported new evidence:

There were hundreds of attempts to illegally influence the outcome of Scotland’s independence referendum, a damning new probe has found. The Sunday Post has learned “several hundred apparently fraudulent applications to register to vote were received” ahead of September’s historic vote.

The alarming disclosure is contained in a report by the officials who oversaw the voter registration process. It comes only weeks after an investigation by the Electoral Commission found “no evidence” of widespread fraud.

The report by the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA), which represents electoral registration officers (ERO), also revealed there had been “widespread misuse and abuse” of provisions which allowed more than 6,000 people to carry out emergency proxy votes.

The scale and the attendant risks inherent in postal voting were also explored in a BBC Scotland report at the time:

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Back in 2004, the elections watchdog said there was no evidence of widespread abuse of the system, but some politicians were extremely sceptical. Conservative MP Alan Duncan told parliament that all-postal voting left “massive scope for fraud and undue influence“, adding: “It is, at every turn, open to fiddles“.

In 2005, judge Richard Mawrey QC delivered a scathing assessment of the system, after ruling there had been “widespread fraud” in six Birmingham council seats won by Labour the previous year. He said the case reached levels, “that would disgrace a banana republic”. To this day, Mr Mawrey maintains postal voting is open to fraud on an “industrial scale”, but the Electoral Commission says it would not be proportionate to end postal voting altogether.

Just like in elections, many people in Scotland have registered to vote in the independence referendum by post. More than four million people get to vote on 18 September, and the number of people with a postal vote went up from 570,587 in March to 680,235, as of 15 August – an increase of about 20%.

https://www.bbc.co.uk › news › uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28741264

At the time and for years after, the Scottish Conservatives were associated with rumours of system abuse:

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No charges were ever made.

Published by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

8 thoughts on “Postal voting in Indyref2 is still greatest concern

  1. Put Yessers off postal voting and you hand a 2-4% advantage to No.

    Don’t

    The English fraud cases were ALL due to Electoral Roll irregularities, NOT postal voting

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Irish media is covering this information about Gove. Wonder how much – if any – coverage it will get in Scotland and UK? Link and snippets below – Now we know why Col. Davidson decided to back Gove for UK pm.

    http://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2019/06/11/news/michael-gove-has-long-held-orange-affiliation-1638896/?param=ds441rif44T

    TORY leadership hopeful Michael Gove has a long-held fascination with the Troubles and knew the words to loyalist anthem The Sash, a new biography reveals.

    Sean O’Grady, a journalist who worked alongside the environment minister, recalls an eye-opening visit to Mr Gove’s London flat in the 1990s.

    “He had an enormous cartoon of the Ulster Unionist Party in parliament – a great big Orange banner type of affair,” Mr O’Grady told Owen Bennett, author of Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry.

    Mr O’Grady, associate editor of the Independent, says Mr Gove’s politics were “quite Orange”.

    Mike Elrick, who trained with him as a journalist, remembers the Conservative leadership contender as “very, very strongly supportive of Ulster Protestantism, and very much sided with the Protestant political parties”.

    In 2000, former journalist Mr Gove wrote a pamphlet called ‘Northern Ireland: the Price of Peace’, in which he compared the Good Friday Agreement to the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s and the condoning of the desires of paedophiles.

    The Scottish-born Brexiteer said the agreement was a “mortal stain” and “a humiliation of our army, police and parliament”, and that its 1998 endorsement on both sides of the border was a “rigged referendum”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John

    Absolutely, very important subject.

    Craig Murray has a petition on the GOV. website calling for international observers at the next Indy Ref.,

    Official observers from OSCE ODIHR to monitor the next Scottish referendum.

    A Scottish Independence referendum determines the relationship between two potentially separate states. The official body for monitoring democratic procedures within the OSCE is its Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Monitoring includes media balance and ballot conduct
    More details

    Only a current state member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe can request an official observer mission. Competence therefore lies at Westminster not Holyrood.
    This petition witnesses public concern at the fairness of postal ballot conduct of a future Scottish Independence referendum and especially that broadcast media are biased
    ODIHR send an advance team weeks or months ahead to monitor media balance.
    If there are no problems, why not get ODIHR confirmation?
    Sign this petition

    10,052 signatures

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/269150

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also doubt that many of those who had postal or proxy votes were actually entitled to vote. I know of one former work colleague and his wife who were not domiciled in Scotland (but Oman) for more than 5 years yet still both managed to vote no. Stinks really.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I am not sure where Derick gets his opinion and his figures from but I know he is quite wrong about the use of the postal vote as currently applied in a referendum for Scottish independence. If he has access to the official figure for the 2014 referendum and studies these he will observe some interesting factors (a) There is a close correlation between the PV % and the ‘No’ vote; so much so that if there had been no PV, or, a small more common one of 5%, the Yes vote would have would have been in the majority. (b) The official figures for the Postal Vote cannot be accurate because more votes are recorded in more than half the voting areas than were possible. (c) Several people knew and commented on the content of the Postal Vote, days before the ballot boxes were opened. This ballot was rigged from the very top. I did a report on this at the time and can prove the points I am making here.
    I will send a copy of that report to anyone who wants it.

    Like

      1. I will send you the report John But I am not sure how I can do this as there is no means of sending an attachment on here that I can see.
        If you send me an e-mail I will respond and send you the report by attachment.

        Andy

        Like

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