Scottish election 2021: Covid has made this a strange experience for those hoping to win voters' backing – Christine Grahame

I write this on election day with typical Scottish weather: heavy showers, sunshine and hailstones.

Despite that, I stood in an impressive queue waiting to vote, most like me of a certain age. We value our votes. Let’s see what the turnout will be.

Anyway, I’m shortly off to patrol my own patch, buzzing the wet streets and popping into the odd polling station if there is a lull and I can get in.

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What a bizarre election this has been, and one on such crucial issues: the recovery, to have a referendum or not. I have no idea how this will turn out and whether the SNP will achieve that nigh impossible overall majority under this proportional representation system.

As for the list, in my view we need to have some criteria for “parties” to stand. Some comprise one person and there are therefore so many that you will soon be able to line that budgie cadge for months. This is not to deny democracy, just not make it a nonsense.

I have only met in person (pre-Covid) one of the opposition in my constituency, there have only been two online hustings, no street stalls and no door knocking so it’s all been a bit dead.

Bring back lamppost posters, I cry. At least then you’d know there is an election on. The count too will be a novel and, I hope, never-to-be-repeated experience. I’ve been at many over the years and the atmosphere is very special with the candidates, their agents and teams, taking a sample count as the ballot boxes are tipped out and the ballot papers unfolded.

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A voter heads to a polling station yesterday but the full results are not expected to be known until tomorrow (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)A voter heads to a polling station yesterday but the full results are not expected to be known until tomorrow (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
A voter heads to a polling station yesterday but the full results are not expected to be known until tomorrow (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

That is when, if you’re quick, you can mark on a sheet how many votes your candidate has received. There is always someone at the back of the hall with the laptop feeding in the samples to give a prediction of the result and I can tell you that can be pretty accurate.

Then there is the sorting of the votes into candidate bundles which are then piled in crates. If it’s a close one, then your heart is in your mouth as the bundles compete for height.

After that, there is the verification when the returning officer gets all the candidates in a huddle and we agree which count and which do not and for whom. Then we are given the final result before it is announced and have to try to keep a straight face if elected.

But forget all that this year. Only five for each candidate will be in the hall. There will be social distancing so you will need the eyesight of a golden eagle to see how the vote is going and take those samples.

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Goodness knows how the candidates can get close enough to each other to see the disputed ballot papers and the declaration itself with face coverings. One huge plus, no hanging around till 6am waiting for your result, mine will be tomorrow when the full results, whether the SNP has won that overall majority, whether Labour has overtaken the Tories as the main opposition, how the Greens have done, will also be known.

For myself? Hope to see you on the other side as they say.

Christine Grahame stood to remain SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

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