Electoral Registration Officers across Scotland act to ensure all postal votes count
Voters who made a mistake on their postal voting statements in the recent European Parliamentary Elections will be contacted by their local Electoral Registration Officer to explain why their vote was not counted. Changes in European Regulations mean that voters can now be made aware of a range of mistakes and omissions that stopped their ballot paper being included in the election count.
Letters to affected voters are being issued from today (11 June 2014) and recipients are being asked to complete and return a fresh Postal Vote application form to ensure their vote will be counted in the upcoming Scottish Independence Referendum and future elections.
All postal voting statements have to be checked by the Returning Officer before the enclosed ballot paper is opened and included in the count. The process involves checking the specimen signature and date of birth to ensure these personal identifiers match those held on file.
The reasons for rejection in the recent election were:
- The signature provided on the postal voting statement did not match the signature as supplied on the original application to vote by post;
- The date of birth provided alongside the postal voting statement did not match the one supplied on the original application to vote by post;
- No signature was provided on the postal voting statement; or
- No date of birth was provided on the postal voting statement
Returning Officers are aware of several reasons why mistakes can happen with the signature and date of birth. These include people using the current date rather than their date of birth; partners signing each other’s form by mistake; people’s signatures changing - perhaps because they were young when they completed the original application or have become infirm in old age; and carers signing forms without a valid proxy vote in place.
Mary Pitcaithly, Chief Counting Officer for the Scottish Independence Referendum commented: “The absent voter verification process is designed to prevent fraud and is a vital part of the process for all elections to ensure everyone can have confidence in the process and the result.
“The recent change to legislation means that we are now able to contact affected voters to let them know their postal vote was rejected, the reason why it was rejected and encourage people to re-submit a postal voting application to ensure their vote is counted in future elections.
“It’s a timely opportunity for voters to update their personal information ahead of the Scottish Independence Referendum and is an important reminder to people to ensure they take great care when completing their postal voting statement. Mistakes mean that a ballot paper might not be counted.”
All letters to affected voters will include a pre-paid reply envelope. Recipients have six weeks to complete and return the form to ensure they are not removed from the postal voters list, although they will remain on the electoral roll.