Feature

Hanging chads would be an improvement.

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United Kingdom

Melanie ReidThe Times

Scotland has badly botched its recent elections, said Melanie Reid in the London Times. The ballots were so confusing that a shocking one in 20 voters failed to mark them properly. “Analogies with hanging chads don’t really begin to describe it.” There were two different ballot papers, one for municipal elections and the other for national races. But there were three columns of names on another sheet, which the ballots were supposed to be matched against. One ballot required X’s, the other numbers—except for a few cases in which you could write in a name instead of choosing a party. Even the political editor of a Scottish newspaper confessed himself to be uncertain whether he was voting correctly. No wonder 100,000 ballots had to be thrown out. In at least two districts, the number of rejected ballots was actually higher than the margin of victory. Not surprisingly, those two are among the poorest districts in the country. In effect, “the ill-designed ballot papers disgracefully disenfranchised those who are already the most powerless and voiceless in society.” That is no way to run an election; it is “a national humiliation.”

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