Risk to votes as Scottish Government minister finds he is missing from electoral register
by Janice Burns, The National 11 March 2015
SCOTTISH Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil and an MSP were forced to provide proof of their identity in order to vote in the General Election ... despite the fact they have both been registered at their home address for nearly 30 years.
Alex Neil, Minister for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights and former health secretary, said he was astounded that he “didn’t exist” on the electoral register even though he has voted in every election and the Scottish independence referendum last September.
The revelations sparked an investigation by The National which uncovered a crisis within Scotland’s voting registration system and mass confusion which could lead to thousands of voters missing their chance to have their say in the May 7 General Election.
A new Individual Electoral Registration structure was introduced in Scotland a day after the independence referendum on September 19 and every voter was sent a letter last November informing them of the change. However, many have had major problems registering their vote.
Previously, one person in every household was responsible for registering everyone else who lives at that address.
Under the new system, each person is now required to register to vote individually, rather than by household.
Individual voters must provide ‘‘identifying information’’, such as date of birth and national insurance number, when applying to register and applications will need to be verified before a person is added to the register. The deadline is April 20.