Blank Backed Ballot Papers.

So you turned up at a polling station and voted.  Or you sent in your ballot paper by post.
But somehow or other, you had been passed an invalid ballot paper without the printing on the back (and yes, they were all the same design - the barcode on the back was unique - see Personation above).
Somehow (as this seems to be about trying to overturn the vote), these blank-backed ballot papers were given only to Yes voters. 
Now you remember that your ballot paper was invalid.

So Polling Clerks were deliberately giving out blank ballot papers to some people - and very cleverly if it was a postal vote, THEY know in advance how you were going to vote.  We are getting into fantasy conspiracy land here. 

Now I watched ballot papers being handed out at polling ststaion and they came from a pad of papers in sequence.   So it'd be impssible to sneak in an invalid paper.  And as discussed in my sister post, the numbers printed on the back of the ballot paper is recorded against your electoral number.  So every Polling Clerk does actually look at the back of every ballot paper. 

Even if people votes were being made deliberately invalid, would these have changed the result?  No.  Look at the number of invalid votes at the official results website http://scotlandreferendum.info/ - 3,429.

That's right 3,623,344 votes were cast and just 3,429 managed to invalidate their votes - 0.9%.The No majority was a wee bit bigger than this.


I've been to lots of counts and votes are invalid for a number of reasons. At the last European Elections, 4% of votes were invalid.  

I think the blank back ballot paper isssue is total and utter tosh.

As I said in my post on the process at Polling Place and the Count, this was a meticulous ballot. 

No system is perfect and the Electoral Commission was in overall charge of this referendum and continuously considers what changes need to be made. 

Conspiracy Theorists 

Now no system is perfect - Voter Id is required in Northern Ireland but not in the rest of the UK - which says something of the low level of 'personation'.  I think this will change as it's an obvious hole in the process - but with just 10 case in such a high turnout election still tells me this is not an issue and I will lament yet another example of distrust becoming the default in our lives.   


I have seem claims that Polling and Couning Officers (note the incorrect term) were instructed to change Yes to No or to deliberately put Yes votes into No piles. 

I've seen claims that this was on the instructions of MI5, the CIA, Buckingham Palace.


I've discussed the process with people, who once they realised that the videos of the count were bunkum, switched to the blank bank ballot papers issue. 



I assume at this point that I am part of the conspiracy - perhaps a stooge of the Palace.  I have after all been to three Royal Garden Parties and have developed a taste for the rather nice lemon tarts and the strawberry sandwiches.   If only they would serve green tea .... 

But anyone demented enough to believe this rigging nonsense wouldn't believe an independent inquiry, a recount or anything else.   It would be another establishment fix. . 

But those banging on about the ballot being rigged make the whole Yes movement look absurd.  So I'll risk the conspiracy theorists believing I'm part of a plot with Mrs Windsor. 

If you are a conspiracy theorist, please don't join my party, The Scottish Greens.  Spend your energies inside Conservative or Labour : I am sure your energy and devious mind can find a way to make them implode.  

19 comments:

  1. As a polling and counting agent in Aberdeen I concur 100% with this article and your last one. You have gained a new reader of your blog!

    I also wrote a piece about the videos in particular http://arewebettertogetherscotland.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/vote-rigging-nonsense/

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    1. I voted in South Ayrshire, i had no idea that thjere was suppose to be a barcode on the back of the ballot papers, the woman in the centre ripped my ballot paper off a type of book thing that had lots of papers in it and i put my X in the boy then asked her if i had to fold it she said yes... there was NO barcode im not lying why would i ? i swear to god nether mines or my partners had barcodes on them...

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  2. I think there is confusion between postal ballots and ballots in person . Have asked a few folk...those postal had barcodes, voting in person myself the official checked my name off the electoral roll list then using the last two digits of electoral roll number wrote this on a separate list against ballot paper numbers, the ballot paper had a very small print number on the front at the top, the back was indeed blank. There is no need for a barcode as the traceability is there, only postals had barcodes on the back. If you look at votes being emptied out of the bins on the night they are ALL blank. I have tried explaining this on twitter but get shouted down!! In my many years of voting in person have never had anything on the back of the ballot, the system is always the same, perhaps pay attention next time they vote to see the system, to me it's foolproof..well maybe not. I am a yes voter by the way!!

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    1. My understanding is that the ballot papers were identical whether used for postal or in person voting. There is a unique identifier on each ballot paper. This is needed in case of 'personation' to enable the extraction of a suspect paper and thereby ensure the integrity of the ballot overall.
      I was at the count - and the papers I saw ALL had barcodes on the back - as I would have expected.

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    2. I have just checked out the official site for what the ballot paper should look like- guess what YES the back of the ballot paper should have had a unique id mark, your regional council,the Scottish Referendum 18 Sep 2014 and official mark. Page 15 the official Referendum Bill. I thought the ballot papers were supposed to be blank but they are definitely not, maybe austerity measures made the councils not print on the back. Something is definitely wrong

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  3. Glad I found this blog, I have no concers about the validity of the count but the back of my ballot paper did not have the barcode and number as has been displayed on a number of sites. I voted in an area that is Conservative dominated so there was no doubt about the outcome. I checked the back of my ballot as I was unsure how to fold it and was looking for a dotted line or instructions and the back of the ballot was definitely blank. I even asked if there was a perferred way to fold it and they said no. If there had been a barcode I would have made sure not to fold it over the barcode. All very weird but I still believe the vote stands.

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  4. Conspiracy or not, still a sham of an election. One week later and oh look, we are going to war because we are in the UK. Tempted to emigrate.

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  5. My ballot paper had bar code on back but my husband who was instructed to go to another person handing out the ballot paper didn't have a bar code

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  6. All I can say is that I saw no ballot papers with a blank back and at the Aberdeenshire Count I attended there were no papers declared invalid for Want of an Official Mark.
    There were also no papers declared invalid for this reason in Aberdeen.
    I haven't check the other 30 councils.

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  7. I counted at the Glasgow count & saw differences in ballot papers. Some (I assume) were the difference between standard & postal papers. Differences were the number and barcode being different sizes & different places and the square logo on the front being different (one was a full square, the other a stack with circles). So there were differences.
    I also noticed several papers that didn't have barcodes/numbers, but was told that was fine as they were valid. We did not do the initial count face down, so I can't say how many blank backed ballots were at my count, as that wasn't what I was focused on. All I can say is there were some present & they were not disallowed. Quite how we could have removed them if found to be fraudulent,

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  8. I realise that you are trying to calm people's fears over vote rigging, but could not the 'blank ballot paper' scam have worked like this. The riggers identify the polling stations where they fear there will be a large turnout against their desired outcome. They issue replace the book of ballot papers at those stations with books of blank papers. Give them to everyone at those stations. Then when the full ballot boxes are being transported, they are replaced by pre-filled boxes, full of genuine ballot papers with a more favourable ratio of votes. No need to know how any individual was going to vote, just a need to identify polling stations in areas likely to vote against the way the rigger wants the vote to go

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  9. Every time I explain an unlikelihood, anoypther theory crops up.
    Why bother swapping the ballot papers issued and risk Presiding Officers, Pollng Clerks and Pollng Agents noticing the fake ballot papers? Surely simpler just to swap the ballot boxes - with exactly the right number of papers issued (or at least matchng fake paperwork).
    Really, these theories involve so many people being involved in a mass conspiracy that it is simply not believable.

    There are weaknesses in the system - and I fear to mention them - that if I were a government intent on rigging an election, I would use. Very difficult to detect. But not in accordance with any theory yet produced.

    Frankly at this point, if I were Police Scotland, I'd be charging e.g. Naomi Wolf fir wasting police time - but that would be part of the conspiracy too.

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  10. This defence of the trustworthy fairminded Britishness takes no account of the gaffe by Ruth Davidson, and John McTernan, about knowledge of postal votes which is ILLEGAL. The kind of defence could be used to discredit those who contended that the publicly-funded BBC displayed no bias. There is no account taken of the allegation by a polling agent who witnessed a Better Together campaigner participating in the counting process. Accusations of conspiracy theory are constantly employed to belittle genuine concerns that very often, further down the line, when their validity has lost much of its relevance and vitality, is upheld. No wonder whistle blowers shrink from blowing the whistle!

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  11. This defence of the trustworthy fairminded Britishness takes no account of the gaffe by Ruth Davidson, and John McTernan, about knowledge of postal votes which is ILLEGAL. The kind of defence could be used to discredit those who contended that the publicly-funded BBC displayed no bias. There is no account taken of the allegation by a polling agent who witnessed a Better Together campaigner participating in the counting process. Accusations of conspiracy theory are constantly employed to
    belittle genuine concerns that very often, further down the line, when their validity has lost much of its relevance and vitality, are upheld. No wonder whistle blowers shrink from blowing the whistle!

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  12. Alasdair MacGregor5 October 2014 at 23:32

    Debra, everything you say makes sense. But you have not given an explanation as to why some ballot papers were blank on the back. Mine certainly was. Can you please do some research into this before dismissing concerned ordinary voters as 'conspiracy theorists' and 'deluded'.

    I have not seen any evidence of fraud and doubt it happened. But I do want an explantion as to why the back of my ballot was blank. The idea that the British state would not indulge in rigging to keep the assets of Scotland is indeed 'deluded'.

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    1. Very well said Alasdair.

      Debra, I trust that you never saw any blank ballots, but with respect, you are only one person. There are many hundreds of thousands of ordinary voters who are certain theirs was blank and we have been given no explanation as to why that is. To call these people conspiracy theorists and devious is extremely unkind and unfair. They deserve to be given an explanation.

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  13. Alasdair,
    I did not see any such papers. Nor did other experienced Counting and Polling Agents. I find this odd.
    Now the thousands of such Agents could fall into 'inexperienced' and therefore wouldn't know what 'normal' looked like or 'complacent' and therefore so long as things looked roughly normal, assumed everything was OK.
    And the Polling Clerks and Counting Officers would also have to be corrupt.
    I simply can't see it.

    There is a more serious corruption : that of big business and financial institutions having effective control over governments and media so that it's almost impossible for us to get out from under their thumb. Why rig a ballot when you can simply frighten people into 'democratically' doing your will.

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  14. Debora - Just because you didnt see any such papers doesnt mean they were not there. I for one know for certain that my ballot was blank on the back, i even took a picture of the front of my ballot before folding and putting in the ballot box. I have looked at this pic again and there is no very small print number on the front at the top as Anonymus 26th Sept says. Are we all going crazy here or were there actually blank backed ballots with no identifying numbers on? One other point about this is, how can they tell how I voted (demographically speaking) if there was no identifier on my ballot?

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  15. As I said to Alasdair, I know personally dozens of people - perhaps hundreds- who were Polling or Counting Agents. I even know some of the
    Polling and Counting Clerks. I saw nothing amiss and I've not heard of anything amuse from my circles.
    Comments closed.

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