Close vote not enough to warrant 
recount says Chief Counting Officer

editorial image
editorial image

Chief Counting Officer for the Scottish Independence Referendum, Mary Pitcaithly, has issued a position statement on requests for recounts to Counting officers at Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

The count for the referendum will begin at 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 18. Votes will be counted in each local authority area and the Counting Officer (CO) for each area will report their totals to the Chief Counting Officer (CCO), who will verify the numbers and authorise the CO to make a local announcement.

The CCO will also announce local totals in Edinburgh, where she will be based, and will declare the national result after receipt and verification of all 32 local totals. There is only one result – the aggregate of all 32 local totals.

If agents or observers have concerns regarding the conduct or accuracy of a count, these must be reported to the local CO, who may consider a recount.

All votes are counted locally and concerns about the count must be resolved locally.

The CO may have the votes in their count area recounted if they consider it appropriate, and the CCO can request a CO to recount the votes if it is considered appropriate. When determining if a recount is needed, the key factor in any decision by a CO or the CCO will be whether any concern has been identified about the count process. The closeness of the vote will in itself not be a sufficient reason.

Ms Pitcaithly said: “The single, most important aspect of my role is to deliver a result that is trusted and accepted. The security, integrity and accuracy of the process are vital.

“I will not authorise any local totals where I have concerns. Counting Officers will undertake recounts if they deem them to be appropriate and I may order votes to be recounted in a local area where I believe it to be appropriate.

“Once a local count is concluded and the totals have been declared, there is no legal basis for recounting the ballot papers.

“A recount cannot take place once a declaration is made.”