Pressure grows for poll inquiry
DOUGLAS Alexander, the Scottish Secretary, last night faced new pressure to set up an independent inquiry into last week's election chaos.
On Tuesday, Mr Alexander handed the job of investigating the Holyrood ballot paper fiasco to the Electoral Commission voting watchdog.
But fresh details of the number of spoilt papers revealed yesterday put Mr Alexander under pressure to change his mind as the commission itself had backed the decision to have one ballot paper for the regional list and constituency votes.
Figures compiled by academics at Strathclyde University showed there were 85,717 rejected constituency votes and 56,247 from the regional list.
Although reports yesterday that this amounted to more than 140,000 spoilt ballots were mistaken - many of the wrongly filled-in sections were on the same papers - the new detail led to fresh calls for a full independent investigation.
However, the figures, compiled from data provided by returning officers around Scotland, make it even clearer that there was voter confusion over the regional and constituency vote being on the same paper.
With the initial instruction on the ballot paper saying people had two votes, a large number seem to have voted twice in the regional list.
James Mitchell, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who helped compile the latest figures, said: "The crucial next step needs to be an independent inquiry.
"I imagine that it shouldn't be too difficult to work out what went wrong.
"There were a number of factors, but there was one main reason for the problem, and that appears to have been the ballot paper design."
A spokesman for Mr Alexander said the Secretary of State had made it clear in the Commons earlier this week that the Electoral Commission would be responsible for carrying out the investigation. That position had not changed, the spokesman added.
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