The preliminary results of the Scottish parliament elections are as follows (given as total seats as a sum of constituency and list seats).
The Scotsman has the detailed breakdown of constituencies and regions.
Speaking of breakdown, the voting and counting was riddled with problems.
The Electoral Commission announced it will conduct a full inquiry into problems with the new electronic counting system that resulted in several counts being suspended. As many as 100,000 ballots were also rejected because they were classed as spoilt papers.
These are two separate problems. The ballots are paper ballots–separate papers for the assembly (with two columns, one for the constituency vote and one for the regional party list) and the local council (ranked choice, STV). So any problem with the electronic counting should be easily resolvable: the ballots can be re-tallied by hand. However, the problem of spoiled ballots may have resulted from voter confusion: not understanding the different kinds of marks needed on each ballot (a single check in each column on the MMP ballot and ranking candidate choices on the STV ballot).
In a separate article in The Scotsman, Ken Ritchie, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, notes, “While the counting equipment has experienced teething problems in some areas, it is not the equipment that has caused people to make mistakes in the completion of their ballot papers.”
SNP leader Alex Salmond adds: “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.”
That’s right. Some degree of voter confusion may be inevitable in a first (which surely now will be the last) simultaneous use of categoric and ranked-choice ballots. Still, in examining ballot papers, some of these errors would seem recoverable.
For instance, if a voter marked a 1 (and other numbers) on the FPTP or party-list ballots, it’s pretty easy to know what the vote was intended to be (the lowest number on each side of the MMP ballot is the first–and only valid–choice on that part of the ballot). On the STV ballot, apparently voters were required to rank at least three candidates for the vote to be valid. So, if voters marked only one, there is not much that can be done. This is an unfortunate aspect of the law, and a worse decision (in my view) than the simultaneous use of MMP and STV.
In any event, I agree with Malcolm that, as bad as the failure to register so many votes in Scotland is, the bigger democratic failure yesterday was in the local councils of England. There, under FPTP and England’s increasingly multiparty system, large numbers of votes may have been literally counted (they will register in the final vote totals) but they will not count in the more fundamental sense of helping elect any candidates. The wasted votes are very high in many council races, with many councils having massive seat majorities for parties with small pluralities of the vote, or even less than a plurality.
Meanwhile, in Wales, Malcolm notes:
Conservatives should once again be proclaiming the benefits of a more proportional system, but are strangely silent. This time, they have gained 4 more constituency (FPTP) seats than 2003 – in part because of the electoral base that their ‘top-up’ regional list AMs [Assembly Members--ed.] have given them over the past years; despite being absent from parliamentary representation between 1997-2005.
- Labour: has gained an extra list seat to compensate a little for losing a number of constituency AMs. So even Labour is starting to get the benefits of the system.
Update: The BBC has the votes percentages.
First, the list vote (with the overall seat percentage):
SNP, 31.0 (36.4)
Lab, 29.2 (35.7)
Con, 13.9 (13.2)
LD, 11.3 (12.4)
Grn, 4.0 (1.6)
BNP, 1.2 (0.0)
It is interesting to compare the vote percentages in the nominal tier (here the number in parentheses is the percentage of constituency seats won)
SNP, 32.9 (28.8)
Lab, 32.2 (50.7)
Con, 16.6 (5.5)
LD, 16.2 (15.1)
Grn, 0.2 (0.0)
From these numbers, what jumps out is the extent to which the Labour party was advantaged by the FPTP portion of the system, winning a majority of the seats allocated that way on less than a third of the votes, and fewer votes in both tiers than the SNP. The list tier “top-up” restored the correct ranking of the two parties’ seats, relative to votes, but barely! Labour remains more over-represented than the SNP (advantage ratio of 1.21 for Labour, 1.17 for SNP).
It is obvious that there was considerable ticket splitting. That is, for all the attention to the spoiled ballots caused by voter confusion, the bigger picture is that the electorate as a whole appeared to understand the strategic implications of the two votes. (It is interesting that among the major parties, it was the third and fourth parties that did better in the nominal vote; that reflects districts where they had the chance at the local plurality against Labour or the SNP.)
The detailed Welsh Assembly results also suggest considerable ticket-splitting.