May election ‘should go ahead’, Nicola Sturgeon says
The Scottish Parliament election should still take place in May despite concerns about COVID-19, the First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon suggested it was “more important” now than in normal times for people to be able to vote, given extensive restrictions on civil liberties.
But she added that any necessary change to the timing or arrangements must be done collaboratively with other political parties.
The next Holyrood election is scheduled to take place on 6 May, with demand for postal voting anticipated to increase.
MSPs passed the Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill before Christmas, which would allow the presiding officer to postpone the election by up to six months.
But asked about such a delay at the lunchtime briefing, Sturgeon said: “I think the election should go ahead, standing here right now. I can’t see into the future with 100 per cent clarity, but that’s my view right now and I think that should be possible to do.
“But we’re in a global pandemic. The most important thing to say is I think that any changes to the timing, or indeed more likely, to arrangements around the election have to be done on a genuinely collaborative and cross-party basis.”
The Scottish Government and partners are currently working on the assumption that up to 40 per cent of the electorate may wish to cast their vote via post.
Currently, 17 per cent of people are registered for a postal ballot, but this is expected to increase as the election draws closer.
But the Electoral Management Board has also said higher demand for postal voting would likely require a delay to the election.