Edinburgh City Council opens emergency polling booth after postal votes chaos

Polling station
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

A Scottish council has opened an emergency polling booth to ensure people who have not received postal votes can still have their say in next week’s General Election.

Edinburgh City Council has taken the unusual step of setting up a centre where locals who have yet to receive their ballot can have one reissued, or can even cast their vote ahead of July 4.

It comes as First Minister John Swinney said he was “troubled” by delays in some Scots receiving their postal votes.

The Record reported today that many Scots were furious they had not received their postal votes before going on holiday.

The Electoral Management Board for Scotland has already been reported as saying here have been “many difficulties experienced with the delivery of postal votes” across the country.

Highlighting there could be a “lot of seats that are very close contests” in Scotland, SNP leader Swinney raised fears this could potentially impact results.

He said: “In an election where there will be a number of marginal contests in Scotland, because there is a really intense contest going on here in Scotland, I am worried people will be disenfranchised.”

In response to the situation, the City of Edinburgh Council announced that it was taking “urgent steps”.

Those voters who have not yet received their postal votes can go to the City Chambers and have their voting pack reissued.

A polling booth will also be set up their for those who wish to cast their vote there and then.

Voters are being reminded to bring photographic identity with them to use the facility, which will operate until 5pm on Friday, and will again be open between 9am and 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

The council took the action after Swinney highlighted how there could be a a “lot of seats that are very close contests”.

The SNP leader had already accused Rishi Sunak of being “disrespectful” with his decision to hold the election at a time when most schools in Scotland have finished for the summer and many families will be on holiday.

Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland on Friday he is “very concerned” about delays in some postal ballots being received, adding this may mean some Scots “have not got the ability to participate in the election”.

The First Minister said: “About 25% of the electorate now vote by post, I don’t know what proportion of postal voters have or have not received their ballot papers.

“But when the convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, Malcolm Burr, makes the comments he made of the concern about the conduct of the postal ballot, that is the advice of the senior returning officer in Scotland, the chair of the Electoral Management Board, expressing deep concern about it.

“I think it is something we should be troubled about.”

He recalled: “The day the Prime Minister called the election I expressed my concern this election was going to take place during the Scottish school summer holidays, and various people criticised me for making that comment.

“But here we are, just as I feared we would be, that people leaving Scotland on their holidays have applied for postal votes, haven’t got them through, and it is not in any way shape or form a surprise to me that that is the case.

“I just think it is a deeply unacceptable situation that people will be disenfranchised because the calling of the election has been done at a time which is quite inconvenient for a lot of people, lots of schools in Scotland are already on their holidays, and we’re a week away from polling day.”

Returning Officer for Edinburgh, Paul Lawrence, said: “I appreciate the concerns of voters on this issue and my absolute priority is to ensure everyone has the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote in this General Election.

“That’s why we’ve taken the decision to put in extra resources and open the City Chambers this weekend.”

He told people: “Please only attend if you haven’t received your postal vote and you’re going on holiday or won’t be at home next week.”

Lawrence added: “The timing of this election has been challenging as have other circumstances beyond our control, but our teams are working hard to ensure it passes off as smoothly and successfully as possible.”

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