Scottish Election 2021 results: Turnout soars in Holyrood election

Turnout looks set to smash that of the previous Holyrood election, with some areas reporting an increase of more than 10 per cent.

Constituencies are beginning to post their turnout figures, with most reporting increased numbers of voters compared to the last election in 2016 and some hitting turnout figures above 70 per cent of the electorate.

Poor weather conditions on Thursday, with snow in some northern parts of Scotland, had raised questions over whether turnout would be affected.

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However, some areas reported voters queuing – due to social distancing requirements inside polling stations – after polls officially closed at 10pm last night – although anyone already in a queue by 10pm was allowed to cast their vote.

People queue to vote in the rain outside the polling station at Notre Dame Primary School in Glasgow.People queue to vote in the rain outside the polling station at Notre Dame Primary School in Glasgow.
People queue to vote in the rain outside the polling station at Notre Dame Primary School in Glasgow.

In Linlithgow, two thirds of those eligible to vote turned out to cast their ballot – up 12 per cent from 2016, while in Clydebank and Milngavie the figure was 70.8 per cent – 10 per cent higher than last time.

Other constituencies which have already reported high turnout figures include East Lothian, where 69.1 per cent of voters turned out to vote.

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Turnout in Edinburgh Southern was 71.11 per cent and Edinburgh Western 71.46 per cent. In Edinburgh Central, however – where the SNP hopes to take the seat back from the Scottish Conservatives following the departure of former leader Ruth Davidson – the figure was lower at just 62 per cent.

Glasgow constituencies also saw big increases in the number of people who voted. In Glasgow Southside, where SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar are going head to head, turnout rose to 59.7 per cent – up from 48 per cent in 2016.

The number of postal votes registered pre-election was at a record high as more people opted to avoid polling stations amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the postal vote turnout across the six Edinburgh constituencies reached 89.2 per cent, with a record 91,068 ballots returned, according to the council. The Electoral Commission announced last month that nearly a quarter of the Scottish electorate – over a million people – registered to cast their vote by post.

Turnout in Perthshire North, which was held by deputy first minister John Swinney for the SNP, was 70 per cent – up 8 per cent.

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Emily Gray, managing director of polling firm Ipsos Mori Scotland, said: “The pandemic may well have played a role in driving the increased turnout we're seeing. During the pandemic, decisions taken day-to-day in Edinburgh have been more visible to people in Scotland than ever before.

"We'll have to wait for post-election analysis to understand whether turnout has gone up more among some population groups than others.”

Professor Nicola McEwen, professor of territorial politics at Edinburgh University, said: “They’re really impressive [figures]. It is the consistent pattern that we're seeing – turnout is up. And that's I think a really positive thing for for Scottish democracy what it means.”

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