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by Eleanor Pugsley
27 June 2024
Voters complain of being 'disenfranchised' amid problems with postal votes

Voters have complained about the posting out of postal votes | Alamy

Voters complain of being 'disenfranchised' amid problems with postal votes

Scottish voters have been left unable to cast their ballot after postal votes failed to arrive in time for the start of the school holidays.  

Holyrood has spoken to voters in Perth and Kinross and Edinburgh who had not received their postal vote before leaving the country.  

The Electoral Management Board for Scotland (EMB) has said there had been “many difficulties experienced with the delivery of postal votes” across the country and has called for a review to be carried out after the election. 

Anthony Teasdale, who lives in the Ochil and South Perthshire constituency, applied for a postal vote on 12 June for himself, his wife and their 18-year-old son. Teasdale and his family left on Thursday to go on holiday for two weeks. They had not received a postal vote before they left. 

Speaking before he left, he said: “We are going abroad for a couple of weeks and haven’t heard anything back. I rang the council on Wednesday and was basically told we now wouldn’t be able to get a postal vote.  

“There were no other options because the deadline for registering for a proxy vote was 19 June. No explanation was given because the person wasn’t in a position to give me an explanation of why that had happened.” 

Teasdale had been able to contact a staff member at Perth & Kinross’s customer service team who told him that the deadline for proxy votes had been extended to the 26 June. However, his family would still not be able to register because they had already applied for a postal vote. 

He added: “The letter we received confirming the postal vote gave us an election hotline phone number which turned out just to be Perth and Kinross’s general number. When I asked to be put through to the election department, the message was, ‘We’ve got a very very high number of calls at the moment’. Which led me to believe I’m not alone in this.  

“I’m just flabbergasted. I’m basically being disenfranchised by bureaucratic incompetence.”  

In Edinburgh, Holyrood spoke to a voter in Edinburgh South West who is leaving to go on holiday with her husband on Friday and still has not received a postal ballot. 

“I’m really quite angry,” she said. “Like any responsible citizen we knew we would be on holiday when the election was announced. We applied for our postal vote through the government website. It was pretty straight forward.”  

The couple applied for their vote on 11 June and has not received any correspondence since then.

They phoned the council electoral office on Tuesday morning to enquire about their vote. They were told postal votes in the Edinburgh constituency were not going to be sent until Wednesday and their postal vote would not arrive until earliest Friday.  

She said: “I suspect there is a lot of people in the same boat. I’m quite cynical with politicians now, and the games that are being played. It is so marginal. Every vote counts. I feel really disenfranchised.” 

Thomas Glen, returning officer for the Perth and Kinross-shire constituency, said: “We’re aware that, in line with the experience across Scotland, a number of residents in Perth and Kinross are reporting that they have not received their postal votes.  

“Unfortunately, there have been ongoing issues with both suppliers and Royal Mail nationally and we welcome the Electoral Management Board’s agreement that a comprehensive review of capacity and systems is necessary after the election.  

“In the meantime, given the tight timescale, we have been engaging with Royal Mail locally who have assured us that they are focussing efforts on clearing the backlog of deliveries and we are hopeful that residents still waiting for a postal vote will receive this in the coming days.” 

Paul Lawrence, the returning officer for Edinburgh constituencies, said: “I appreciate the concerns of voters on this issue however we’ve issued postal votes as soon as possible given the legal timetable.

“I’d encourage anyone who has already received their postal vote to return it as soon as possible, through Royal Mail.

“The timing of this election has been challenging but our teams are working hard to ensure it passes off as smoothly and successfully as possible.”

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “Anyone who applied before the deadline on Wednesday 19 June and had their application approved, should soon receive their ballot pack through the post.  

“Some people may have received these already. Local authorities are working to get these out to postal voters as quickly as possible.” 


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