Around the scottish blogosphere, everyone’s (here, here, here, here) talking of what disgrace this election has been: shambles is the buzz word. And, indeed, it has been a shambles in at least two respects: discounted votes and delayed counting. It appears that the latter depended on the former, with e-counting machines running much slower and getting stuck because they had to refer to human beings too many ambiguous ballot papers. But it is clearly the discounted votes that are the most worrying, because the way in which the elections has been organized might have had an effect on the results, thereby potentially undermining the democratic process.
People have been talking no end about how confusing the ballot papers were. Early last night, I was quite upset by that: I have never liked that kind of underestimation of the electorate. We are not stupid; and we can, surprise surprise, tell crosses from numbers. But then I realized that there was a moment of hesitation, when I put down the two ballot papers, in which I had to remind myself which wanted crosses, which wanted numbers. And, given that the only people I have met at polling stations have been pensioners, I guess my moment, when you add 50years, you subtract some eye-sight, some hearing, some breath, and some clarity of mind, might turn into 100,000 spoiled votes. The responsibility, in short, is with old folk, and the solution is easy: let us not allow old people to vote. They make a mess, and a lot of them won’t be around for the whole term anyway. And I mean, the consequence of that will just be a dramatic drop in turnout – which is great news for politicians.
Seriously, the people I have voted for made it: Sarah Boyack in Edinburgh Central overcame both the LibDem challenge and the SNP challenge; and the Greens got Harper in through my Lothian regional list. In the end, I don’t even mind the overall result: the SNP as the main party means change, but they haven’t got the numbers to do anything stupid. They haven’t got the numbers to do anything, you’ll say. True enough, but that’s PR. And, to be honest, the fact that all the four main parties got a good number of seats through the constituency vote, and that only one party got into parliament merely because of the regional list (and with only two MSPs), goes to show that we don’t need PR. Indeed, for Holyrood more than for Westminster, we can get good representation without PR; which means good representation + good governance, rather than good representation at the expense of good governance.