Hume shrugs off grumbles over ‘slow count’

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DESPITE disgruntled rumblings from candidates, their coteries and the Fourth Estate over the very long election count at Tweedbank’s Eildon Mill, returning officer David Hume said that no official complaints had been received.

The chief executive of Scottish Borders Council, charged with overseeing all aspects of the election process, said on Tuesday: “The objective of the count is to achieve for the electorate of each constituency an accurate and reliable summation of their voting preferences which is capable of standing up to scrutiny and challenge.

“In the count of the Scottish Parliament and referendum polls, we achieved that objective, and in doing so, achieved very high levels of accuracy and consistency all the way through the counts.”

Those eligible to attend the count had been told in advance to expect the results for the two Borders constituencies between 6.30 and 8am.

In the event, the first result – for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire – was announced by Mr Hume at 8.30am with the outcome in Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, proclaimed 20 minutes later, just short of 11 hours from when voting ended the previous night.

“On this occasion, the count process took longer than on previous occasions,” admitted Mr Hume. “This was due to the additional verification and checking procedures we were required to follow by direction of the Chief Counting Officer. This was not unexpected, and intimation that this would be the case was given in all our pre-election materials and briefings.

“In all, 700 staff were involved in the issuing, collection and counting of 180,000 ballot papers and a high proportion of these staff were undertaking these duties for the first time.

“I would pay a great deal of credit to the professionalism and dedication of all staff involved in this election in the Scottish Borders and South Midlothian for the excellence and high standards they achieved in carrying out their duties.”