After a minor flurry of interest around Ruth Davidson’s referendum night admission on BBC television that Better Together were counting samples of postal votes and her subsequent interview by the police, the story has gone completely dead in the media. From the start I had very low expectations that the investigation I triggered by complaining to Police Scotland, the Electoral Commission and the Chief Counting Officer would lead to prosecutions, but I was hopeful that shining a light on this practice would prevent it happening in future elections. With the long dark nights and no students to teach, I now have had the time to follow-up these complaints.
I have now learnt that the Electoral Commission report on the Referendum will shortly be submitted to the Scottish Parliament and that it does identify illegal counting of postal votes as a process failure in the Referendum.
I have also learnt that I was wrong in assuming that the police investigation had run out of momentum due to lack of evidence, and have now learnt that the investigation is still ongoing and that the Crown Office is considering prosecutions for breaches of the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 of those directly involved in collecting, collating and analysing data illegally collected at postal vote openings.
Either of these will imply that there were conspiracies to act illegally at the heart of the referendum campaign, exposing all the politicians and officers to questions about what they knew, when they knew it and what they did about it.