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One Month Left to Register to Vote – What will the Pandemic Mean?

Photo Credit: Thor_Deichmann

April 19 marks the final day when Scots will be able to vote in the upcoming Scottish Parliament election.

The 2021 election will be held on May 6, but voters need to register first before they can cast their ballot. Registration can take place either online or by post before the deadline reaches its completion.

Constituents will also be able to vote by post, and the Electoral Commission is expecting to see a 23% increase in postal voting, totalling 40% of Scottish voters. But the deadline to apply for a postal vote is April 6.

However, the pandemic will not be putting a stop to the election this year. Minister for Parliamentary Business Graeme Dey said: “It is as a result of the hard work of electoral professionals over the course of the winter that I am confident that the election can go ahead on 6 May. This is also the view of Malcolm Burr, convener of the Electoral Management Board.

“One of the steps taken – the Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Act – was the result of close working between all parties in this Chamber and our electoral community. Amongst its provisions, the Act ensures the ability to postpone the election if required, but I am pleased to say that this does not seem necessary at present.

“It is fundamental for a democracy to hold scheduled elections, provided it is safe to do so.”

Leafleting will be permitted from March 15 if gatherings of four people from two households will be permitted in the area by then.

Mr Dey added: “Face-to-face campaigning on the doorstep cannot commence at the same time as leafleting. Careful consideration has been given to the role of canvassing during an ongoing pandemic, the risks associated with it, where allowing doorstep campaigning would sit with other non-election restrictions and how the public might react to having political campaigners at their door.

“I recognise that there is an appetite for it to be permitted in due course. And in light of discussion with clinical advisers and providing the stay at home restrictions are able to be lifted, face-to-face doorstep campaigning can be permitted from 5 April subject to the virus being sufficiently suppressed.

“That decision will be based on whether the infection rate as an average across Scotland has fallen to 50 per 100,000 or less – the number which the WHO considers as evidence that the pandemic is sufficiently under control and, alongside this, test positive numbers sit below 5%.”

The Scottish Government also feel it will be safe for Scots to vote in person but they have taken measures to help anyone who can’t on the day.

Mr Dey said: “We have made it possible for anyone who is unable to vote in person, due to testing positive or having to self-isolate, to apply for a proxy vote, an option which is available until 5pm on the day of poll. In addition, there is legislation before the Parliament at the moment which will now allow someone who has already appointed a proxy to change their appointed proxy if the original is no longer able to vote on their behalf.”

Details on how to register to vote online: https://www.mygov.scot/register-to-vote-scotland/register-to-vote-online/

Details to register by post can be found on here: https://www.mygov.scot/register-to-vote-scotland/register-to-vote-by-post/

Details on how to register for postal vote can be found on: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote

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