On the night of the Scottish referendum, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said on BBC TV that Better Together had been taking tallies of postal votes as they came in. Knowing the breakdown of postal votes would have been valuable information for the campaigns.
Late swing threatens to deprive SNP of poll victory, Independent, 3rd May, 2007
'Labour's organisers in Scotland think they have won a last-minute victory over the Scottish Nationalists in a battle for control of the Scottish Parliament. Results from postal voting in key constituencies have reinforced opinion-poll evidence of a swing to Labour. In Ochil, a seat currently held by the SNP, Labour has taken 457 out of 981 votes cast by post. The SNP has 322, the Tories 127 and the Liberal Democrats 75. In another key marginal, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Labour's David Whitton,a former aide to the man who created the Scottish Parliament, the late Donald Dewar, has picked up 202 postal votes out of about 700. The other main candidates have between 100 and 150.'
Scottish independence: no campaigners buoyed by first referendum results, Guardian, 18th September, 2014
'Sources in both the yes and no camps also confirmed that sampling of the 780,000 postal votes issued for the poll were two to one in favour of Better Together, with yes campaigners confirming they expected Edinburgh to vote no.'
Indyref truthers and the great conspiracy, The Scotsman, 28th September, 2014
'On Facebook and Twitter, so-called indyref truthers continue to propound wild conspiracy theories. Police Scotland and the Electoral Commission have been inundated with vociferous, but vague complaints based on unsubstantiated YouTube clips and the American author Naomi Wolf – whose locus in all this is unclear – appears to be collating tweets from the “no ID number” brigade.Entering the world of the indyref conspiracy theorists is like travelling through the looking glass. It started with a flurry of dodgy YouTube clips: bundles of ballot papers (one with a cross clearly marked in the Yes box) sitting on a No table; shaky footage of a woman who appears to be taking votes from the Yes basket and placing them in the No basket; and a man who has a quick look round him before making a mark on a piece of paper. Then, it moved on to “strange” goings-on involving a laptop and secret meetings at the Renfrewshire count, and comments from Ruth Davidson which appeared to suggest No campaigners had gained early sight of some of the postal votes. Finally there is the ongoing controversy of the blank-backed papers.'
Police complaints about indy postal votes now extend to Labour spin doctor, Herald, 7th October, 2014
'Mr McTernan, who was also director of political operations when Tony Blair was Prime Minister, told The Herald his conclusions about postal votes were just "a prediction" coming from "my capacious brain and ability to analyse trends that are clearly there in the electorate". Writing on Twitter, Mr McTernan added: "A polite warning to the cybernuts who think I stole an election. A question about postal votes gets you blocked. For being boring. And mad."'
'Scottish minister Humza Yousaf also made reference to indications from "postal ballot sampling", saying they were "positive for Yes" in an interview during referendum coverage two-and-a-half hours after the ballots closed. "The intelligence we're getting is that in those die-hard, traditional Labour areas the Yes campaign is starting to break through quite strongly," he said. "That's initial postal ballot sampling, all the caveats thrown in, etc., etc.." The SNP said Mr Yousaf was referring to sampling of postal votes after the ballot had closed.'
Murphy's new spindoctor embroiled in row over secret postal votes, Sunday Herald, 25th January, 2015
'Within minutes of polls closing on September 18, Susan Dalgety boasted online that postal results were "very positive for No", even though it is a criminal offence to ascertain how people voted by post or to forward that information.'
Police urged to quiz Murphy's spin doctor over referendum postal ballots, Sunday Herald, 1st February, 2015
'An SNP source said: "Jim Murphy has made some very questionable appointments, which cast his party in a negative light. As well as being embarrassing, this issue takes Labour back to when they were joined at the hip with the Tories - it seems like they were sharing all sorts of information."
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "Susan Dalgety made her comments based on her extensive experience of elections and postal votes. It is not an offence to make an observation.".'
The SNP's very Scottish conspiracy, The Daily Telegraph, 19th April, 2015
'Mr McTernan’s foreknowledge is easily explained, too: though the postal votes were not actually counted until referendum night, they were opened beforehand, with campaign representatives present and able to peek at where people put their crosses'.
'Electoral administrators and returning officers for the General Election have been warned to keep the postal ballot secret and told that voting tallies by political agents is illegal.
The guidance has come as a result of the experience during the Scottish Referendum when it was alleged pro-union campaigners breached electoral law by examining postal ballot papers to gauge how well the Better Together campaign was doing before the polls had closed on September 18.'
Revealed: Ed’s night-time dash to casa Brand driven by postal ballot panic, Labour Uncut, 2nd May, 2015
'Postal voting started in mid-April. Over 5 million are expected to cast their ballot in this way and over the last week, local teams from all parties have attended postal vote opening sessions in each constituency.
Although the parties are legally not allowed to tally votes at these events, they all do and the constituency teams then dutifully pass their field intelligence back to HQ.
These are not opinion polls results or canvass returns but actual votes, hundreds of thousands of votes, from across Britain. Numbers have been flowing from each marginal to party strategists to give the most accurate picture of the current state of play.
Labour insiders familiar with the latest figures have told Uncut that the picture for Labour in marginal seats, where it is fighting the Tories, is almost uniformly grim.'
Independence Referendum: One Year On. Ruth Davidson on winning, regrets and that postal vote row, Sunday Herald, 13th September, 2015
'I then read her[Ruth Davidson] back comments she made on the BBC on the night of the referendum. "Different local authorities have had openings around the country. It is illegal to discuss that while any ballot is ongoing, so until 10 o'clock tonight no-one could talk about it. "But there are people in the room that have been sampling those ballot boxes as they have been opened and they have been taking tallies and the reports have been very positive for us." Davidson’s comments were followed by complaints to the police, as postal ballots must be kept face down during the verification process. She was also questioned by police as a witness. Asked if her remarks were a source of regret, she gives her least polished answer of the day. “Well, I mean, I wasn’t in any rooms where that was happening. There are people who are mandated to do that. I was never registered with any of the local authorities to be there. I know that other politicians who were... “To be honest, by that point, I think that was about half past ten at night, and I had been up for two [or] three straight days and two nights. I probably don’t know what I was saying at that point.” Do you wish you had not said it? “I’ve no idea.” A staffer pipes up: “Sorry to interrupt, the guys from the next meeting are here.” I push ahead. Who told her the tallies had been positive? “Away,” she says, dismissively. I put it to her that her recollection has been fine so far. “My recollection so far, actually, I don’t know....Honestly, the last six weeks of that campaign. I couldn’t tell you what day was what.” So who was it? “I’ve no recollection,” she says, after fixing me a death stare.'
Police hand prosecutors details about referendum vote claims involving Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, The Herald, 15th September, 2015
'Police Scotland have passed on "information" to the Crown Office having concluded a year-long investigation into allegations pro-Union campaigners breached electoral secrecy laws during the Scottish independence referendum. The development comes nearly a year after police were instructed to launch an official probe over complaints surrounding comments made by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson that postal vote "tallies" were being taken in the weeks before the referendum ballot closed at 10pm on September 18.'
Riddle deepens over Ruth Davidson and allegations of referendum election fraud, Sunday Herald, 1st May, 2016
'Police Scotland have revealed for the first time that only three people gave witness statements during their year-long probe into allegations of election fraud in the Scottish independence referendum and they were all "subjects of the investigation". ... In explaining why there were restrictions in disclosure of information about the investigation and how they reached their conclusion, Police Scotland added: "Whilst no individuals have been reported at this time, there is the potential for new information that could come to light that would trigger a related investigation, and as such,the release of any data at this time could substantially prejudice any future case."'
This is a playlist of videos related to postal vote sampling in the Scottish Independence Referendum held on 18th September 2014, starting with Ruth Davidson MSP on referendum night, then moving to vaguer references implying postal vote sampling, and finally including some clips on the wider problems with the referendum's administration and other problems with postal voting.