Probably as many as 100,000 Scottish voters have been disenfranchised, as they have failed to understand how to complete the two voting slips they were presented with yesterday. So whatever the results are they will not represent the voting intentions of those who took part.
Voters were presented with three ballots on 2 voting papers for two seperate elections ;
A. For the Holyrood elections - One paper combining 2 lists
1. For a named individual candidate which required a single "X"
2. For the "top-up regional list" where voters cast a preference for party only, not candidate, which required a single "X"
B. For local authority elections under the new Single Transferable Vote system requring the need to mark their First and Second preference with a "1", "2", "3" etc.,
A combination of poor design, inedequately clear instructions and lack of experience resulted in many thousands of ballot papers being inadvertently spoilt... and threfore rejected from the count.
On top of this there has evidently been malfunctioning automatic mark sense reading equipment and associated software.
This must have affected the results - for example, in Airdrie and Shotts, Labour's majority of 1,446 was less than the total of 1,536 rejected ballots. In some constituencies up to 7% of the papers were declared spoilt.
The Guradian quote Alex Salmond ...
"The postal voting arrangements for this election across Scotland were totally inadequate.
"It is also the case that the decision to conduct an STV election at the same time as a first-past-the-post ballot for the Scottish parliament was deeply mistaken.
"As a direct result, tens of thousands of votes across Scotland have been discounted this evening.
"That is totally unacceptable in a democratic society."
Ken Ritchie, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, which is monitoring the election, said the situation was "shocking and intolerable".
He added: "We have no reason to believe there's any political bias but its hugely unsatisfactory.
The Scotland Office minister, David Cairns, told the BBC:
"There is clearly an issue about the number of spoilt ballot papers."
It beggars belief that in a modern, educated democracy that such a result could be produced. There will of course be a lot of blowing hard but nothing will happen ...but you can be certain that after the necessary emollient "Inquiry" ...er... "lessons will be learnt."
.. and everyone who lost will claim the election was stolen from them.