Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spoiled ballot papers

Now, my frustration at the 'First Minister' saga is as nothing compared to the issue of spoiled ballot papers ;-((

Yes, it was high in the Scottish Parliament elections - that was the election under the Additional Member System (AMS) that had absolutely NOTHING whatsoever to do with STV-PR (as was used for the Local Authority elections).

As indicated earlier, the number of spoiled ballot-papers under STV was fairly standard - around 1.3% for Edinburgh Council as a whole, and as low as 0.6% in some Wards. The large increase in spoils came under AMS for the Parliament - 3.1% on the left-hand side of the paper and a shocking 5.1% on the right-hand (constituency) side of the paper ... that's 1 in 20 votes!!

I'm convinced that thousands and thousands of people voted on the left-hand side and thought "job done" and ignored the right-hand side ... the conjoining of the (previously) two ballot papers has been very badly managed. Again, nothing whatsoever to do with STV.

Whether I'm right or wrong on the detail, the solution is not to blame PR, but to change the Scottish Parliament electoral system from AMS to STV ... it should have been used from the start (in 1999) and if ever you needed evidence that it's a better system, just have a look in detail at the wide range of analysis that will inevitably come out over the coming weeks.

I sense that my Fairshare activity is about to be re-invigorated!


Anonymous said...

If, for ex, I had voted Greens in the regional list vote and then nothing on the constituency part, how would have been considered? A vote for the Greens in the list and an abstantion on the constituency vote? Or would have been considered a spoiled paper?

James Gilmour said...

Andrea, the one X on the Regional "ballot paper" part of your combined "ballot sheet" would be counted as one vote for the Green Party. The absence of any mark on the Constituency "ballot paper" part of the combined "ballot sheet" would be classed as "Blank or Void for uncertainty" and so it would be tallied among the "spoilt papers" for the Constituency ONLY.

Andrew said...


'Edinburgh' has beaten me too it ... and is quite correct in answer!

What you describe, did happen a bit (and is fine if as a Green you don't want to vote for any of the main Party constituency candidates), but it wasn't a substantial problem in number.

What I was refering to, was thousands (literally) of people voting for one of the four main parties on the list and then NOT voting for any of their candidates on the constituency side of the ticket.

I'm certain this was a mistake, on their part, and they thought "job done" having voted once.

The fall-out from all of this will throw up some obvious problems - i.e. in Glasgow and Edinburgh bold arrows were removed from the ballot paper (that clearly showed were to vote) because of the number of parties/Independents on the list making the ballot paper too big for the scanning machines!

STV for Holyrood the only, obvious answer ;-))


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the replies