Holyrood election could be called off as late as day before as no 'official' cut-off date for decision

There is no official ‘cut-off’ date for the Scottish Parliamentary elections to be called off or postponed, with the possibility of the decision potentially being made as late as May 5.
The Scottish Parliamentary elections could be called off as late as May 5.The Scottish Parliamentary elections could be called off as late as May 5.
The Scottish Parliamentary elections could be called off as late as May 5.

Legislation around this year’s Holyrood elections, due to take place on May 6, was passed by the Scottish Parliament late last year.

It includes the provision for the vote to be changed on a cross-party basis to include more postal votes or for multiple days of polling.

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The Bill also gives the Presiding Officer the power to delay the election for up to six months if it is deemed unsafe for the Parliament to meet to postpone the poll.

Any decision taken by the Presiding Officer would see the Scottish Government, the Electoral Commission, the Electoral Management Board and the Chief Medical Officer consulted prior to a decision.

However, there is no official ‘cut-off’ date for when that decision has to made.

This means it could be as late as the day before the poll – May 5 – when the Parliament decides the election should be postponed, although this is very unlikely.

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon said many countries have had elections during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said: “My view really hasn’t changed.

"Elections can be held even during a global pandemic and my view is that if at all possible, the election should go ahead.

"It’s a crucial part of our democracy that people get the opportunity to decide after five years, and this parliamentary term has been a five year one, whether this government should continue or another government should take over.

"And perhaps at a time of crisis that is even more important.

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"It may be that there have to be changes made to how the election is conducted, more postal voting for example, and of course we have contingency legislation that was passed just at the turn of the year that would make some of those options available.”

A SavantaComRes poll undertaken between January 8 and 13 online suggested just under half of Scots (49 per cent) believe the vote should be delayed.

A further 35 per cent believe it should go ahead as planned, with 16 per cent saying they did not know which was the correct course of action.

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