'Electoral deceit': Ballot paper confusion may have cost us seats, fume Scottish Greens

The Scottish Green Party say the Electoral Commission has “serious questions” to answer, as they accuse a smaller party of “electoral deceit” which may have cost them two MSPs.
Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie's party have criticised the Independent Green Voice party over their choice of branding.Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie's party have criticised the Independent Green Voice party over their choice of branding.
Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie's party have criticised the Independent Green Voice party over their choice of branding.

They are furious about the logo of Independent Green Voice as it appeared on ballot papers – featuring a leaf and the word “green” in a similar typeface to that of the Scottish Green Party.

Independent Green Voice was registered in 2003, though Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater’s party say it is now being used as a front for the far right.

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It has almost no online presence and appears to have done little campaigning, but it nevertheless received 2,220 votes in the Glasgow regional list.

The Scottish Green Party said this may have led to them missing out on a seat, as they were beaten by the Conservatives for the final place on the list by less than 1,000 votes.

Mr Harvie and Ms Slater’s party say a similar situation took place on the South of Scotland regional list.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: “Independent Green Voice, now a front for fascists, was allowed to use a logo with ‘green’ in big letters and the other words in small print on the ballot paper.

“This attracted enough votes to potentially prevent two additional Scottish Green MSPs to be elected, one in Glasgow and one in the South of Scotland.

“There are serious questions about how the Electoral Commission allowed such blatant electoral deceit.”

Ahead of the election, Green MSP Ross Greer urged supporters to avoid “fake” candidates standing under the green umbrella.

Rules around party registration mean the elections watchdog can only take action where there is “likely” to be confusion between parties, rather than the mere possibility of confusion.

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There is nothing to prevent more than one party having a word such as “green” in its title.

Records show Independent Green Voice has been registered since 2003 but it adopted a new logo in March 2021, replacing a “thumbs up” symbol with one of a leaf.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said: “We assess all applications for party names and emblems against the criteria set out in law, including the requirement to ensure that in our opinion voters would not likely be confused between two parties as a result of how their identity marks look on a ballot paper.

“If a party’s application meets the legal criteria it must be registered. As part of our assessment process we invite comments from the public and other parties.”

She continued: “No concerns were raised with us in relation to this application to add an emblem to a long-registered party.

“There were no previously registered emblems that were visually similar such as was likely to cause confusion.

“We are satisfied that there are clear and sufficient differences between the two party’s registered names, descriptions and emblems to avoid confusion.”

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