The Scottish Referendum - a possible recount

16 September 2014

Even after the count of the “Yes”, “No” and “Doubtful/Rejected” votes, a recount may take place.

This would not be due to a local count being close, but due to a possible discrepancy in the counting process.

A close result in a count is not a ground in itself for a recount.

However, the process adopted in a local count or the failure to reconcile the numbers of votes to be counted with actual votes recorded, may be cause for the Chief Counting Officer to order a recount in a particular area.

Concerns regarding the process in a local count may also cause observers to object and request a local recount in a particular area. That would delay the local count being declared.

There is no provision for a national recount. Any recounts would be dealt with at the local level, and it is unknown if any local recounts, or how many, will be required.

Once the local count has been completed, the local Counting Officer will send the provisional totals for the local area to the Chief Counting Officer. The CCO will then authorise the CO to consult with the referendum agents. At this point, the referendum agents could request a recount.

A recount can take place in a local authority area if the CO considers it appropriate to do so. If so, the CO will immediately inform the CCO.

The CO will consider any request for a recount. However, the CO may refuse if, in their opinion, the request is unreasonable.

Any concerns about a local count must be made at the local level at the time. If a recount takes place, then papers to be treated as rejected can be reconsidered.

It is possible for each area to have more than one recount.

Due to each of the 32 local counts being treated as a separate event, there will no  provision for a recount on a national basis.

That is because there is no national count as such. There are 32 separate local counts, the totals of which will feed into the national result.

The CCO can direct a recount in any local authority area. That eventuality could arise if, in her opinion, the accuracy of the result reported to her is in question for whatever reason.

This could be due to a possible difference between the reported total of votes cast in the area (from the first count, giving the turnout figure) and then the actual totals of votes reported to her (from the second count of "Yes", "No" and "Rejected"). Those two figures should tie up.  

After the count, or any recount, the CO seeks approval of the count and also permission from the CCO to make the public declaration of the local total of the categories of votes cast.

After that, the work of the local count is done. At some point, counting teams will be given permission to leave and the counting centre will be closed.

After the national result has been declared by the CCO, the local authority will then store the Referendum papers for one year. The CCO will also retain the certification of the local totals and the national result for one year.

Let’s hope there’s no need for any recounts.

Let’s also hope that the number of ballot papers to be included in the count or the counting of the “Yes”, “No” and “Doubtfuls”, or the assessment of “Rejects” for example, will not result in a challenge in the courts.

That would be by a petition for judicial review in the Court of Session. If the result is announced on Friday 19th September, the six week period for a petition would run until the end of October.

Our Gus Macaulay deals with all sorts of court actions – if you need litigation help, please contact Gus on 0141 229 0880 or send Gus an email.

Bookmark and Share



blog comments powered by Disqus