Fraud allegations are quite loud in Scotland these days. Most papers ignored the topic which is mainly discussed on social media platforms as long as they could – what I do understand from a journalistic point of view as it’s hardly possible at all to verify or falsify the alleged evidence which is presented via blogs, twitter, facebook and so on -, but for example the Herald writes that 100.000 people have signed a petition to rerun indyref, and let’s be honest: 100.000 don’t sound a wee bunch of lunatics. Some of the theories which haunt the web say: there were blank (means: lacking an identifier on their backside) ballot papers which shouldn’t be counted due to these rules (see page 17f) and/or these blanks were afterwards replaced by others and/or some ballot papers were simply thrown away (see Herald article linked above), probably in order to replace them or to influence the outcome and/or the outcome wasn’t influenced but the vote was manipulated. The conclusion of these allegations is always the same: the referendum should be declared null and void and get rerun.
I have no answers as I simply cannot prove all this right or wrong so it’s just rumours for the time being and it’s very important to be aware of this. But I have quite some questions and if anyone has reliable asnwers to them and has the backbone to be quoted as a source, I’m looking forward to you contacting me via twitter best. The polling station staff had the strict order to hand out only ballot papers with an unique identifier on the back, so it would be illegal and even liable to prosecution if they did otherwise, so if there was a conspiracy of such a kind, the polling station staff would have been involved. That would be a very serious accusation of hundrets of people who possibly live in the neighbourhood of those who speak out the accusations. Did anyone speak to staff members and asked them to comment on this? How is anyone going to prove the blank backs without a proof of the mere existance of them – or is there one? What happened to the ballot papers after the count? Could they get analyzed by a neutral third? Why would anyone prepare manipulated ballot papers but dispose of the real ones by throwing them away instead of burning them or making sure elsewise that it’s impossible to prove that manipulation?
After all, I wonder if these allegations were a desperate attempt to undo Scotland’s will of the narrow majority or if there really was improbity of one kind or another and someone was clever enough to leave so clear evidence that no one would ever believe this was true because it would be simply gormless to forget cleaning up after such a manipulation. Actually I think the recommended conclusion is unrealistic but not the worst and would cope with both cases. Let’s imagine that Westminster said “okay, listen, there was no fraud at all but we will prove that Scotland said No and Scotland says No, no matter what, let’s vote again” and would repeat the voting with external watchers: That would be an immense investment of paper, money, manpower and time, and people who push for this should understand that it’s money that could better benefit children and poor, but it would also be a fearless demonstration of democracy. It won’t happen, I don’t think so anyway. But the interesting question is whether or not the outcome would be the same, and that’s certainly not referring to possible past fraud at all, that’s rather referring to wondrous oil augmentation – compare this and that – and the feared possible shrinking of Devolution Max.