You’ll have seen my post about accepting the referendum result already no doubt, but i didn’t really talk about the many allegations of electoral fraud in that post so i thought i’d do so here.

Incriminating Evidence?

On the morning following the referendum there were several videos circulating which showed, so it was said, evidence of vote fraud happening in the referendum. All of these clips look very suspicious, and all have plausible, and uncheckable innocent explanations too. Here they are, along with their plausible explanations, but feel free to scroll through them if you like, if you’ve seen them already.

This video shows three of the clips. The first apparently shows a woman at the count putting “Yes” votes into the “No” pile and covering them up with one “No” vote. The rationalist explanation for this is that she simple made a mistake and corrected herself (so they were actually “No” votes, the video doesn’t actually show whether they were “Yes” or “No”).

The second clip is from Sky News, it was shown on referendum night, after polls had closed, with the voiceover “and this is a pile of No votes”, however you can clearly see several “Yes” votes in among the “No” votes. The official explanation is that in the two stage counting process, this is actually a table of unsorted votes, resting on a table that happened to be labelled “No” in preparation for the second stage of counting later that evening.

The third clip shows a man apparently filling in blank ballots himself. We cannot clearly see what he is writing actually, and the rationalist explanation is that he is writing “50”, perhaps, on a post-it note and attaching it to a rubber banded pile of fifty counted votes.

This clip shows a ballot box being unsealed, and the ballot papers beng tipped onto a table, in neat rubber banded bundles. This one is supposedly suspect because as we all know, ballot papers are in a jumble in their sealed boxes, however the rationalist explanation for this is that postal votes have been opened already and put into these sealed ballot boxes (as the voice over says, actually).

This clip is from referendum night, after polls had closed. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson reveals her team had viewed the postal votes weeks before polling day. This is actually prohibited by the Edinburgh Agreement 2012, as observers must only see the ballot papers face down, and not identify the way votes were going. Ms Davidson makes it clear here that she had seen a good few of the votes, and police did question her about this but obviously no charge was made, possibly because the Edinburgh Agreement is apparently unenforceable by any body or organisation. The contentious issue is that if “better together” had indeed known the contents of the postal votes, it could have informed their decision to change the terms and conditions of a “No” vote in the final weeks of the campaign, which is also prohibited in the Edinburgh Agreement 2012, incidentally.

This clip is simply about ten people in Glasgow misrepresenting themselves at the polling station. This was found out when the actual voters turned up to vote. In this case they isolated the ballot papers concerned from the count. There could have been more, despite what is claimed in the video, so long as the actual voters didn’t turn up at the polling station, these would never have been found out. One wonders also if this would have been so easily spotted if people representing postal voters had turned up to vote on the day, or would both votes have ended up being counted?

This one is security camera footage from the Dundee count, where two fire alarms disrupted proceedings. Yes Scotland themselves were quick to state that no fraud took place while people were out of the building, since some observers stayed behind to watch. Even so, i have no idea what is going on here. Why would anyone appear to swap papers from her bag, and across tables during the fire evacuation?

This one is from a week or two after the referendum. A guy purports to have been tipped off and then gone to find a discarded bag full of “Yes” votes in a bin. He has also posted a follow up video showing the ballot papers closer up and they appear to be genuine. I heard (but have no link to prove it) that he was interviewed by police about it.

Incidentally, as you can see this ballot is blank on the back. Several hundred people report their ballots being blank on the back, so it stands to reason that thousands more may have also been, despite this also being a clear breach of procedure under the Scottish Referendum Act 2013.

What Else?

Well the interesting stuff wasn’t in the videos actually. Here’s a much more thorough discussion of the referendum vote fraud than the one you’re now reading. Scroll down to where it says “Multiple Voting Irregularities” about halfway down the page. There are a good few eyewitness accounts of what might easily be seen as electoral fraud, mainly involving actual or potential swapping or tampering of ballot boxes while in transit from the polling places to the counts. This evidence seems to be treated as secondary by most armchair conspiracists, presumably because it doesn’t have any video attached.

So What?

Right well i support Scottish independence, and the referendum was a win for no Scottish independence, so if i say it was rigged, i’d better damn well have proof or else it’s just sour grapes and i’m one of thousands of bad losers. Right? Well actually, yes. That’s right. And i have more bad news for you too. There IS NO PROOF of referendum fraud, except those ten incidents of misrepresentation in Glasgow.

The referendum was run by the Electoral Commission. They reportedly did not ensure the ballot boxes were sealed at the polling places, did not check the seals at the counts, did not ensure the ballot boxes were accompanied by more than one person at all times, and they used the same postal voting system that had been officially described for years as “childishly simple” to defraud. In this referendum, just like all other UK elections (except Northern Ireland), you didn’t need any ID to vote. You didn’t need your polling card, even, you just needed to say your name and address (personally i didn’t even say my address, my partner was in the queue ahead of me and i just said “same address”. They let me vote no questions asked…)

The Electoral Commission are a UK body, and the UK were, of course, firmly behind the “No” campaign. Now, i realise what i’m about to say doesn’t constitute proof either but just have a look at this photo of Mary Pitcaithly, who was entirely responsible for the security of the referendum. Just look at her standing in front of those results and ask yourself whether you think she voted Yes or No, and whether or not she might have been tempted to look the other way in the name of the cause.

Mary Pitcaithly, Chief Counting Officer

Mary Pitcaithly, Chief Counting Officer

Mary Pitcaithly said she was “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.”

That’s not quite true of course, since the Russian observers raised considerable concerns, and they weren’t the only observers to note that having counts in hangar sized venues, and in at least one count the observers were penned off from the counting staff, means that observers can only observe a tiny fraction of what is actually going on. Most of the time most counters are not being observed, and the counters can, of course, see when someone is watching. One person mentioned on facebook that when he had been observing at one of the counts, one counter had persistently bundled “No” votes in batches of nineteen, rather than twenty. He picked her up on it several times but she continued to do it on and off. It’s a long night, so mistakes could be made, but…

Mary Pitcaithly also advised her counters before the referendum that the back of each ballot paper “will carry a unique identifying number and the name of the relevant council area” though this information was not widely known among the public. Many people have reported that their ballots were blank on the back, however when this was reported, the Electoral Commission simply responded saying “in the extremely unlikely event that a ballot paper is issued, completed and placed in the ballot box and does not have a unique identifying number on the reverse, it will still be included in the counting of votes and would not simply be rejected on these grounds

So Was It Rigged Then?

You know, i’m not going to say right here whether i think it was or wasn’t rigged. Simple as that. What i will say is if i had wanted to rig that referendum, i would have done it through one or both of the following two methods:

Postal Ballots

Alistair Darling, Former Labour Chancellor

Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer for a UK Labour Government

“No” won by 400,000 votes, roughly, and there were roughly 800,000 postal ballots cast in this referendum. I won’t even go into the issue of “better together” changing the terms of a “No” vote after the date when people started casting their postal ballots, but what i will say is it would have been easy peasy to get a load of campaign eager beavers to register postal votes and cast them on behalf of people who were not going to vote for one reason or another. This has definitely happened in at least one Council election in England, with the knowledge and cooperation of the Labour Party themselves in at least one instance, and the only reason this loophole has not been fixed is because Labour are blocking the relevant legislation to change it in parliament. It was also Labour who introduced the current lax postal vote system, while in government in the first place. I don’t suppose i have to remind you that Labour were the main movers and shakers behind the “better together” referendum campaign…

Polling Place To Count

Shortly after 10PM on polling day, hundreds of vehicles are scooting off along Scotland’s roads, carrying ballot boxes, many are sealed, though most may not have had their numbered seals checked at the polling station, and most if not all will not have their seal number checked at the count either, due to the rush. Many of these ballot boxes will be transported in private, unmarked, vehicles, and many will be transported by a lone driver, with no-one accompanying them. In the case of the referendum, some sort of incident on the A9 delayed some of the Caithness ballot boxes for a couple of hours, even.

How difficult would it be to replace ballots in boxes, and replace an unnumbered seal, or even to replace entire ballot boxes. After all many sizes and types of box were used in the referendum, and even if a standard size had been used, it wouldn’t have been that hard for those with access to the boxes to make up a convincing alternative box plus ballots to substitute for an authentic one. This could have happened on a grand scale and there would be not a shred of proof, and only a few people, relatively, woudl even know about it.

So What Does It All Add Up To Then?

Nothing.

There’s no proof, and the evidence there is mostly appeared within hours of polls closing, very suspiciously in my view. Was this dropped into the public sphere by some unionist agency hoping that the “nationalists” would allow their grief to push them into indignant rage and embarrass themselves and their campaign for independence beyond repair? It’s possible, since these videos don’t actually prove anything, and yet they provoke such anger, even now, among many independence supporters.

If Voting Changed Anything, They'd Make It IllegalI also think it’s interesting that the Edinburgh Agreement stipulated there would be no national recount, only local recounts, if the local officer decided it would be appropriate, and the Agreement also stipulates that the result would be final six weeks after referendum day (which has now passed). For such an important vote, this seems unprecedented.

And a recount would be useless anyway, wouldn’t it? If the fraud had happened as i described above, then a recount would simply give the same result, and would only serve to allow the smugly smiling unionists to rub the “nationalists” faces in it all over again. Perhaps the Edinburgh Agreement was simply trying to save us the embarrassment.

So That’s That Then, Is It?

Pretty much, yes. I mean, the campaign for independence seems to be going stronger than ever, mind you, and unlike the aftermath of the devolution referendum in 1979, i think it has taken Scotland a very short time indeed to come to terms with the outcome of the 2014 referendum. After all, the 2015 general election’s just round the corner, and in 2016 it’s the Scottish elections, and a politically enlivened Scotland is eager to get back in to the polling stations and influence their own future.

Let’s just hope it’s not all just a big fix…

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