Changes coming to Scottish Parliament election rules

The Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 2010 has been tabled in Parliament this week bringing about changes in the law for the Scottish Parliament elections. As it is a Statutory Instrument (SI) it cannot be amended – either it gets Parliamentary approval or it is rejected outright. It is extremely rare for an SI to be rejected and there are no signs that this one will be in that class.

The main changes people can therefore expect for the next Scottish Parliament elections are:

  • The rules controlling donations to Scottish Parliament constituency candidates will now be the same as those for Westminster Parliament candidates.
  • There is now a “long campaign” period in which the expenses of constituency candidates are controlled, again as with Westminster Parliament elections.
  • The “minimum period” between the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament and the day of poll has been increased from 21 to 28 days, in line with the recommendations from the Gould report.
  • The rules have been amended to also allow grandparents or grandchildren to assist a person with disabilities to vote at a polling station.
  • The rules have been amended to reflect the transfer of responsibility for the storage of election documents, including marked registers, from Sheriff Clerks to constituency returning officers. Similar changes have already been made for Westminster Parliament elections.

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