Ballot papers for the Stornoway Trust election should be dropping through mailboxes by Thursday, in advance of election day on Tuesday (March 27).
The papers were a couple of days later than intended because of the high level of interest in this year’s election, with 22 candidates standing – the highest number in 40 years.
Stornoway Trust factor Iain Maciver explained the ballot papers were a little later because the Electoral Reform Services, who are handling the election on behalf of the Trust, had to prepare election literature for more candidates than they had been expecting.
The time between receiving ballot papers and election day has always been short due to the terms set out in the Trust’s ‘Deed of Trust’, which stipulates the election must take place 14 days after the deadline for potential candidates to change their minds and withdraw their nominations.
Everyone who is on the Electoral Roll within the Trust area will receive a ballot paper – and people are being encouraged to use the postal vote option to maximise the chance of an early declaration on Tuesday night.
The deadline for postal votes is noon on Tuesday and the advice is to post by Saturday at the latest to ensure they get to London in time.
Stamped addressed envelopes are included with the ballot papers to make this as easy as possible.
Anyone unable to vote by post can place their vote in a ballot box in the Stornoway Trust office between 8am and 8pm on Tuesday. After that, the box or boxes will be taken across to the Town Hall for the count, which will be attended by candidates, their agents and the media.
“We would hope to declare the result as early as possible,” said Iain, who will be the Returning Officer for the election. However, the high level of interest in the election this time round could mean that it takes a little longer to get the result.
He recognised the ballot papers had been held up, explaining: “Because of the volume, it has delayed the distribution of the ballot papers. They should be appearing Wednesday or Thursday in people’s mailboxes.
“First of all, from my perspective, I would hope that people exercise the choice to vote and that they do it quickly, aiming to return them by Saturday to make sure that they are in London for the following Tuesday.
“Anyone who cannot post before Saturday, they have the facility of a ballot box in the Trust office from 8am to 8pm on Tuesday – however, the more who exercise their postal vote, the easier it will be for an early declaration.”
He added: “It’s a difficult election to call but there’s certainly choice and people should certainly exercise their right to vote.”
This week’s Stornoway Gazette has statements from all 22 candidates standing in the Stornoway Trust Election, highlighting what they think are the key issues for the future.