Postal votes delay may leave some Scots ‘disenfranchised’, warns Swinney

The Scottish First Minister said many people yet to receive their ballot will be heading away on holiday before July 4.

Postal votes delay may leave some Scots ‘disenfranchised’, warns Swinney PA Media

Scotland’s First Minister has voiced concern about delays in some people receiving postal votes for next week’s election, warning the situation could leave some Scots “disenfranchised” for the crucial ballot.

John Swinney was speaking after the Electoral Management Board for Scotland was reported to have said there have been “many difficulties experienced with the delivery of postal votes” across the country.

Highlighting there could be a “lot of seats that are very close contests” in Scotland, the SNP leader raised fears this could potentially impact results come polling day on July 4.

Mr Swinney said: “In an election where there will be a number of marginal contests in Scotland, because there is a really intense contest going on here in Scotland, I am worried people will be disenfranchised.”

He had already accused Rishi Sunak of being “disrespectful” with his decision to hold the election at a time when most schools in Scotland have finished for the summer and many families will be on holiday.

Mr Swinney said on Friday he is “very concerned” about delays in some postal ballots being received, adding this may mean some Scots “have not got the ability to participate in the election”.

The First Minister told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “About 25% of the electorate now vote by post, I don’t know what proportion of postal voters have or have not received their ballot papers.

“But when the convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, Malcolm Burr, makes the comments he made of the concern about the conduct of the postal ballot, that is the advice of the senior returning officer in Scotland, the chair of the Electoral Management Board, expressing deep concern about it.

“I think it is something we should be troubled about.”Mr Swinney said that in this election in Scotland, “my intelligence tells me there will be a lot of seats that are very close contests”.

He said the 2017 Westminster election saw the SNP’s Pete Wishart win by just 21 votes in the former Perth and North Perthshire constituency, while in North East Fife Stephen Gethins won the seat by two votes.

Mr Swinney said this shows “individual votes count very, very significantly”, adding he is “troubled by what is happening in the postal ballot”.

He recalled: “The day the Prime Minister called the election I expressed my concern this election was going to take place during the Scottish school summer holidays, and various people criticised me for making that comment.

“But here we are, just as I feared we would be, that people leaving Scotland on their holidays have applied for postal votes, haven’t got them through, and it is not in any way shape or form a surprise to me that that is the case.

“I just think it is a deeply unacceptable situation that people will be disenfranchised because the calling of the election has been done at a time which is quite inconvenient for a lot of people, lots of schools in Scotland are already on their holidays, and we’re a week away from polling day.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code