Counting officer defends referendum count amid vote rigging claims

Almost 90,000 people have signed an online petition for a recount after videos and pictures emerged online, leading to conspiracy theories.

Scottish independence referendum voting at polling station ballot box quality indyref
© HEMEDIA / SWNS Group

The chief counting officer has said the independence referendum count was "properly conducted" amid claims of vote rigging.

Almost 90,000 people have signed an online petition for a recount after videos and pictures emerged online, leading to conspiracy theories.

One video shows a woman sitting at a desk sorting ballot papers while a picture shows a 'Yes' ballot paper on a 'No' pile.

However, the electoral board have released a full statement explaining the image and footage and defending the conduct of the count.

Chief counting office Mary Pitcaithly, convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, was in charge of overseeing the referendum count.

A statement from the board read: "The chief counting officer is satisfied that all counts throughout Scotland were properly conducted and scrutinised by thousands of people representing both the Yes Scotland and the Better Together campaigns, as well as international election observers, media and police.

"None of these people raised any concerns during the verification, counting and adjudication stages. The Electoral Commission will write a full report on the referendum and concerns can also be directed to them.

"The only recourse now is to judicial review. The individual would have to persuade the courts that there had been issues at counts which had a chance of influencing the result.

"Each of the episodes in the video can be easily explained. However they are presented as a "conspiracy" theory. It is most frustrating and does not recognise the immense work that so many people put into the planning and delivery of the count."

"The lady taking papers from one pile to another. I have no idea what is happening, where it is happening or even if it is part of this referendum. Clearly if looks like she has put some papers on a pile by mistake and is then putting them right. The video is looped so it is deceptive in its presentation."

In response to the image of 'Yes' ballot paper on a pile of 'No's', the statement added: "This is not Clackmannanshire but Dundee. It was apparently explained live on TV what had happened.

"This was at the verification stage. The papers had not been split into Yes/No. They were briefly stored on the counted papers table. There is nothing to explain.

"Edinburgh element - the count assistant in the video is doing what is a standard element of any count process. He has counted papers into bundles of 50 and those leftover are bundled together and a slip of paper is placed on the top of the bundle saying how many are in the bundle.

"The count assistant is writing a number on a slip of paper and putting it under the elastic band on the bundle. This happens at every count."

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