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What is happening with postal votes?



What is happening with postal votes?

By Jamie McIvorBBC Scotland News

BBC postal voteBBC

Concerns have been raised over delays to people receiving postal vote forms ahead of the general election next Thursday.

The timing of the election when the Scottish school holidays have begun and many voters are away have raised worries among politicians.

BBC Scotland has spoken to a number of people whose postal vote had not arrived before they headed off on holiday.

Why is this a big issue?

Postal voting has become much more commonplace in recent years, rising from 2% a couple of decades ago to 25% now.

Anyone can apply for a postal vote with some people preferring to vote by post rather than do so in person.

But there’s a specific problem in this election.

This is the first time a general election has been held in July since 1945 and most schools in Scotland have now broken up for the summer with many families flying off on holiday.

If people are on holiday and have not yet got their ballot it basically means they will no longer be able to vote.

What appears to be causing the problem?

The big issue seems to concern people who applied for a postal vote before the 19 June deadline but after 7 June.

It appears that 7 June was a significant administrative deadline, although this was never publicised.

Postal votes granted to people who applied up to 7 June have now been sent out all across Scotland.

But in some council areas, postal votes granted after that date are only just being sent out.

Voters who were planning to go away on holiday this weekend had no reason to believe that applying on 9 June rather than 7 June would have made any meaningful difference to the chance of their postal voting pack arriving on time.

Some councils have identified the length of time it has taken to print postal voting packs as an issue.

This means they have been sent out later than some might have hoped for.

Royal Mail has strenuously denied that it is responsible for the problems.

However, given the timescales, any example of a postal voting pack taking longer than normal to deliver could well have added to a voter’s concerns.

Is there anything someone already on holiday can do about it?

The short answer is no.

It is now too late to arrange to vote by proxy.

A postal vote cannot be completed by someone else.

In theory, someone could fly back from holiday early and return their postal vote to their local polling place on Thursday but that is unlikely to be a practical or desirable option for many.

What about people due to go on holiday before 4 July who are still at home?

From today, councils can start issuing replacement voting packs to people whose postal votes did not arrive.

These packs can be sent out or collected in person.

The City of Edinburgh Council has announced it is taking urgent steps to help people who will not be at home next week.

It said people could go to the City Chambers on Friday and over the weekend with photo ID and a replacement pack can be issued.

They will also be able to vote at a special polling booth over the next three days.

The details of the re-issue arrangements vary from council to council. Council websites should have information.

In some areas, only those who requested a postal vote before 7 June will be able request a replacement.

This is because postal votes granted later are still being delivered. Those who applied after the 7th in those areas will have to wait.

If you haven’t received your vote, should you be concerned?

People request postal votes for all kinds of reasons – while some may be ill or housebound others may simply prefer to vote by post.

If their postal pack arrives, too close to election day and people are worried about returning it on time there is a simple option.

It can be handed in at a polling place on Thursday.

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