Yesterday Scotland voted for a new Scottish Parliament using a mix of first past the post by marking an X next to your preferred candidate and a regional list system of Proportional Representation by marking an X next to your preferred party. They were both together on one ballot paper. At the same time we voted for our local council using another ballot paper and a whole different system, Single Transferable Vote, where we were asked to rank our preference in order 1, 2, 3 and so on. This is the first time the STV system has been used.
Add into that mix the use of electronic counting machines for the first time and you have a recipe for complete disaster.
So far almost 100,000 ballots have been not accepted across the country. These are not spoiled papers where someone has chosen to deface the ballot in protest, but rather ballot papers completed incorrectly.
This is one of the closest elections in Scottish history. We don’t need electronic error and voter confusion added into that mix. The upshot is we have no idea who out new Scottish Executive will be and might not know until later today or even tomorrow.
What makes the whole thing worse is that the same problems occurred during the election of London’s Mayor when the same confusing mix of systems was used. No one seems to have learned from this even though there was widespread concern about voter confusion. In one constituency over 12% of the votes were not accepted.
Welcome to democracy!