Scottish independence: Charities launch vote drive

The referendum takes place in 13 months' time. Picture: Jane Barlow
The referendum takes place in 13 months' time. Picture: Jane Barlow
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CHARITY chiefs are to launch a campaign to ensure Scots use their vote in the independence referendum next year, amid concerns many will be frozen out.

The Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisation (SCVO) and the STUC want to oversee a voter engagement campaign, warning that the responsibility can’t be left to a public body such as the Electoral Commission.

Both bodies are calling on the UK and Scottish Government to create a fund to support community activity around the referendum and voting. Representatives from various third sector organisations have indicated they would be interested in getting involved.

The SCVO and STUC say they could undertake the administration and governance of such a fund and scrutiny of project proposals, with all the money going to grassroots organisations.

Jenny Bloomfield, policy officer, SCVO, said: “The referendum will see people in Scotland make one of the most important political decisions in decades but voter turnout is historically low in Scotland, and it’s important that everyone gets involved in the referendum.

“It’s likely that thousands of people in Scotland aren’t even on the electoral register. Grass-roots, community-led projects have been very successful at boosting voter registration in Ireland and we need to see a lot more of this activity in Scotland.”

The UK Government has recently opened up a £4.2m fund for community organisations to get more people on the electoral register.

The last Scottish Government election registered a turnout of only 50.6 per cent.