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Scottish elections scuppered by e-counting meltdown

Scotch mist descends on results

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The Scottish elections have been marred by an electronic counting fiasco.

The Electoral Commission has already stepped in and said that it will immediately launch an independent review into how thousands of vote counts for the Scottish Parliament and local elections had been delayed due to "technical difficulties".

According to reports, seven constituencies had to abandon the e-counting machines last night after Scotland went to the polls yesterday.

Constituencies where counts had been suspended include Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Eastwood and Perth and Tayside North.

The BBC reports that there was a problem collating the votes via the computer system.

DRS, which provided the e-counting machines, uses data capture technology to read the votes.

Head of elections for DRS, Sonya Anderson told the BBC: "As we scan the ballot papers we are capturing the votes and recording the fact we are capturing those votes. Once we have recorded all those votes we need to use a calculation to pull those results together and produce the results the returning officer is going to declare from.

"That process is taking longer than anticipated in some of the centres and some returning officers have decided because of the long wait that the staff and the candidates are experiencing that they are going to ask staff and candidates to go home while we resolve the issue."

The decision to run parliamentary and local elections on the same day using a new system was also believed to have added to the chaos that led to thousands of papers being spoiled.

There was also said to be confusion among voters with the single transferable vote system that required numbers to be allocated to preferred candidates in the local elections.

With counts delayed it is unknown which party has gained the most seats, but it has been a bad night in Scotland for the Labour Party.

Meanwhile, voting south of the border has not been completely stress free, with electronic counting in the Midlands also coming a cropper.

One Reg reader describing chaos in Stratford and Warwick told us: "Apparently the computers have crashed and the high speed scanners have had problems with folded/creased voting papers.

"The voting papers were roughly A4 size with nice big boxes for the tick and we were instructed NOT to fold the paper but to post it into the box face down."

Which is new take on the concept of the secret ballot we suppose. Apparently Warwick, Stratford and Warwick Town Council are all set to start counting votes using their backup system - ie, local council workers.®

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