Newsnet Scotland can reveal that postal vote applications for the forthcoming Glasgow North East by-election have dramatically increased compared to 2005 figures.
Figures released by Glasgow Council reveal the total number of postal vote applications granted for the by-election has reached 6,065 - an increase of 3646 on the 2005 figure of 2419.
It has also emerged that in the month of October alone the voters roll in Glasgow North East increased by an astonishing 2438 people, rising from 60037 at the start of the month to 62475 by the 31st.
The increases in postal votes mirror those of the Glenrothes by-election in 2008 where postal vote applications rose from 4181 in 2005 to 6954 in 2008. Of those 6954 applications 5584 were actually cast (around 80%).
Concerns were raised in Glenrothes when, after a result that saw Labour retain the seat against all expectations, the electoral registers subsequently went missing.
Indeed when the final tally was released it showed that despite a drop in voter turnout from 37414 in 2005 to 36220 in 2008, Labour actually managed to increase their vote total from 19395 to 19946.
The 2005 Glasgow North East election saw 1617 (60%) of the 2419 postal votes actually cast in the ballot. However if the Glenrothes percentage of 80% is repeated then Glasgow North East will see postal ballots make up around 4800 of total votes cast - a threefold increase in postal ballots compared to that of 2005 and almost 17% of the expected turnout.
A spokesman for Glasgow council explained the dramatic rise by saying:
“It's worth mentioning that we have been carrying out a lot of publicity recently to encourage people to register to vote.”
“We have increased the number of full time canvassers working in the city and most of these have been prioritising the Glasgow North East constituency. We are using our canvassers to capture the increased interest given a by-election is being held.”
“There were also adverts in national newspapers (Record, Sun, Metro) and Evening Times, Radio Clyde, plus advertising in outdoor locations, on the Glasgow Subway and elsewhere.”
“In addition, the Electoral Commission carried out some PR last week to encourage people to register etc.”
Glasgow North East has received scant coverage from the Scottish media, although activists on the ground will certainly have helped raise its profile. This dramatic increase in both the voters roll and postal ballots will cause concern amongst those who have doubts over what they see as a lack of security around postal balloting and the very real potential for abuse.
Postal balloting has already seen court cases in England involving the Labour party. There will be many in Glasgow North East who will be monitoring the count very closely given what happened to the by-election registers in Glenrothes.
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