Salmond Demands Control of Elections; Voting Scandal: 142,000 Void Papers
Byline: Stuart Nicolson
ALEX Salmond was last night locked in a tug-of-war with London over whowill run the next Scottish parliament elections.
The First Minister has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown demanding that hebe given control of the 2011 contest.
The move followed yesterday?s damning report on last May?s shambolic poll,which called for Holyrood ministers to be given responsibility for allelections north of the Border. The plea came amid calls for former ScottishSecretary Douglas Alexander, who was responsible for this year?s election, toquit the Cabinet.
But Mr Alexander?s successor, Des Browne, made it clear he did not want tosurrender Westminster?s control of the elections.
Labour fears handing responsibility to the SNP will allow the Nationalists toengineer the contest to their advantage. Mr Browne also announced thatelectronic counting of votes would be scrapped in favour of a manual count.
The use of electronic machines to check and count ballot papers was one of thefactors which saw May?s knife-edge election descend into chaos.
Other reasons included holding the parliament and local council elections onthe same day, introducing a new voting system for the local vote and using asingle ballot paper for both constituency and regional list votes for Holyrood.
Yesterday?s report by Canadian election expert Ron Gould listed the use of asingle paper as a major factor in the fiasco which saw 142,000 ballotsrejected.
His report, which concluded that voters were treated as ?an afterthought?, saidthis year?s elections were arranged by Scotland Office ministers and theprevious Labour-led Scottish Executive for ?partisan political interest?.
Mr Gould also called for a ban on candidates? names instead of party names onthe list section of the Holy-rood ballot.
This would prevent the SNP repeating the tactic it used in May of having ?AlexSalmond for First Minister? on the regional side of the voting slip.
The move was seen as a masterstroke which allowed the Nationalists to pipLabour by 47 seats to 46. …