Scotland

Scottish referendum: Vote count was 'properly conducted' says counting officer

ballot papers Image copyright Grab
Image caption An online video claims to show a pile of "Yes" votes sitting on a table marked "No"

The chief counting officer has defended the conduct of the Scottish referendum after allegations of vote rigging.

More than 70,000 people have signed an online petition demanding "a revote counted by impartial international parties".

In a statement, the chief counting officer said all counts "were properly conducted and scrutinised".

Ten votes in Glasgow are already being investigated over a separate claim of multiple voting.

The change.org petition says: "Countless evidences of fraud during the recent Scottish Referendum have come to light, including two counts of votes being moved in bulk into a 'No' pile, 'Yes' votes clearly being seen in 'No' piles and strange occurrences with dual fire alarms and clear cut fraud in Glasgow.

"We demand a revote be taken of said referendum, where each vote shall be counted by two individuals, one of whom should be an international impartial party without a stake in the vote."

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has called for an official inquiry into the claims raised by the petition and in an online video.

Mr Sillars tweeted: "The vote rigging is disturbing. Enquiry required."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Jim Sillars has called for an inquiry into the vote rigging allegations

A group calling itself Elite NWO Agenda put the video online which, it claims, shows vote rigging at various counts around Scotland.

One clips claims to show a female member of the counting staff moving a large bundle of 'Yes' votes into a 'No' tray and replacing them with a single 'No' vote.

Another shows a pile of "Yes" ballot papers sitting on a table marked "No".

When complaints were first made to "Yes" campaigners on the night of the count, Yes Dundee tweeted: "To clarify, ballot papers have not yet been sorted into Yes/No and are just resting on a table where No will go once sorted. No need to worry".

A third clip claims to show a vote counter filling out ballot papers himself.

'Properly conducted'

Referendum votes were counted in 32 local authority areas, with the final result announced at a central count in Ingliston, Edinburgh, by chief counting office Mary Pitcaithly, who is convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly said all counts "were properly conducted and scrutinised"

In the statement, a spokesman responded: "The chief counting officer is satisfied that all counts throughout Scotland were properly conducted and scrutinised by thousands of people representing both the Yes Scotland and the Better Together campaigns, as well as international election observers, media and police.

"None of these people raised any concerns during the verification, counting and adjudication stages."

He added: "The Electoral Commission will write a full report on the referendum and concerns can also be directed to them."

"The only recourse now is to judicial review. The individual would have to persuade the courts that there had been issues at counts which had a chance of influencing the result.

"Each of the episodes in the video can be easily explained. However they are presented as a 'conspiracy' theory.

"It is most frustrating and does not recognise the immense work that so many people put into the planning and delivery of the count."

Responding to the first clip, he wrote: "The lady taking papers from one pile to another. I have no idea what is happening, where it is happening or even if it is part of this referendum.

"Clearly if looks like she has put some papers on a pile by mistake and is then putting them right. The video is looped so it is deceptive in its presentation."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ballots were counted at a central count in Edinburgh and in local authority areas across Scotland

Responding to the second and third clips: "This is not Clackmannanshire but Dundee. It was apparently explained live on TV what had happened.

"This was at the verification stage. The papers had not been split into Yes/No. They were briefly stored on the counted papers table. There is nothing to explain.

"Edinburgh element - the count assistant in the video is doing what is a standard element of any count process.

"He has counted papers into bundles of 50 and those leftover are bundled together and a slip of paper is placed on the top of the bundle saying how many are in the bundle.

"The count assistant is writing a number on a slip of paper and putting it under the elastic band on the bundle. This happens at every count."

Glasgow incident

In a separate incident, officials at the referendum count in Glasgow have been investigating 10 cases of suspected electoral fraud at polling stations.

It is thought to be related to possible cases of impersonation, where people pretend to be someone else and cast a vote, then the real person turns up.

The 10 suspect votes were cast at a variety of different polling stations across the city.

Glasgow City Council said police had been called earlier on Thursday.

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