Electoral Commission in trawl for agency

The Electoral Commission is on the hunt for agency support in Scotland – weeks after the fiasco that led to 100,000 spoilt ballot papers.

Voters are believed to have been confused by the system introduced in last month’s parliamentary and local elections.

Now, the Electoral Commission is preparing to hand out a two-year contract to raise awareness of the methods available for people to cast their vote. The commission also wants an agency to help provide ‘well run elections and referendums which produce results that are accepted’.

The commission’s recently-installed head of media and public affairs Helena Hird said: ‘There were several elections on the same day which did not use the same systems. People were getting different papers with different requirements.’

She added:  ‘The agency will provide press office support to the Scottish Office and support campaign activity.’

The new agency will take over from incumbent Pagoda PR. The commission is also on the verge of reviewing its support in Wales where the incumbent is Equinox Public Relations. While the commission does not make the final decisions on how elections are managed, it does provide advice and guidance.

An independent review into the Scottish elections is to take place over the summer headed by Ron Gould. The Commission has asked Gould to review all aspects of the elections, but with a particular focus on the high number of rejected ballots, the electronic counting process, the arrangements for postal voting and the decision to hold the parliamentary and local government polls on the same day.

Gould – who has previously advised the United Nations on election observations – will also look at the role of the Electoral Commission itself in the preparations for the elections.

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