Chief Counting Officer gives first directions for Scottish Independence Referendum

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The Chief Counting Officer (CCO) Mary Pitcaithly, will publish the formal notice for the Scottish Independence Referendum on Wednesday, August 13.

Poll cards will be issued to voters on August 14 and 15 and postal ballot papers will be issued by August 28.

This is one of eight directions that the CCO has issued to local Counting Officers (COs), including Gerry Cornes, who is the Counting Officer for East Dunbartonshire Council to ensure the proper and effective conduct of the referendum.

Mary Pitcaithly said: “My focus is on ensuring that all elements of planning and delivery of the Scottish Independence Referendum are undertaken with the interests of the voter at the heart of all decisions. I believe these directions will inspire confidence and provide consistency in the process so that we can administer a successful Referendum, with a result that everyone will trust as accurate.”

Gerry Cornes, CO for East Dunbartonshire Council area added: “We are committed to ensuring that our voting and counting processes are robust, transparent and secure to ensure voters in East Dunbartonshire have confidence in our local result and the overall national result. We are grateful for these clear and concise directions from the Chief Counting Officer, which should be helpful to voters across East Dunbartonshire and Scotland as a whole.”

Other directions include an instruction that ballot papers must be white and that there will be one Official Mark for the whole of Scotland carried on all ballot papers. The front of the ballot paper will bear this official security mark and the back will carry a unique identifying number and the name of the relevant council area.

Due to the anticipated high turnout across Scotland, COs are being directed to print 120 per cent of the ballot papers required for both postal voters and those who vote in person at polling stations, so there are always spare papers in case any are destroyed or damaged.

To minimise delays, they are also being directed to appoint one polling clerk for every 800 voters eligible to cast their vote in person at the polling stations and have additional staff available to move between polling stations to help manage peaks and troughs during the day.

The count will take place overnight on Thursday, September 18 and start as soon as reasonably practicable after the close of poll, in The Leisuredrome, Balmuildy Road, Bishopbriggs.

Local authorities who adopt the “mini-count” method may move to the count stage before the verification process of all votes cast has finished.