I am far from being a tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorist. I understand that in a free market economy it just might happen that none of the national or local dailies represents the views of 45% of the population. I can even deal with the fact that most media is of such a low quality that they will publish any untruths spouted by their side without bothering to check the facts.
However, the outrageous fact that postal votes were opened before 10pm on the referendum night and the silly excuses repeated by the press are a step too far. Nobody is asking the right questions.
Postal votes consist of two parts that must not be separated by the voter: one is a sealed envelope with the actual voting slip, the other contains personal details including the signature that is compared with the records to ensure no electoral fraud was committed. It is perfectly possible to verify whether the vote was cast fraudulently without seeing how the person voted. This assures the secrecy of voting.
All the talk of keeping the ballots face down is ridiculous as the actual ballot will not be seen unless the envelope containing it is opened and it cannot happen by accident.
Let’s say that it is possible though. The votes are meant to be kept face down but it just so happened that it wasn’t always the case. My question is: how many votes do you have to “accidentally” see to be able to keep a dependable tally of how the voting is going? Surely, a sample opening is about as accurate and scientific as trying to divine the result by observing the clouds.
My rusty maths says that 51% of votes would have to be opened and “accidentally” seen and all of them would have to be against independence to give any sort of an “encouraging” indication as to how the voting is going. Otherwise, you cannot be sure of anything.
A more important question is why did they even keep a tally if they couldn’t communicate what they saw?
Finally, the police assumes that the sample openings had no impact on the actual referendum result. The postal ballots were sent out two weeks before the referendum. Everybody agreed that postal votes were likely to be against independence. Then the sample openings happened.
Everybody assumes that Cameron, Clegg and Miliband issued the “vow” as a result of a single opinion poll that gave the yes campaign a slight majority (within the range of a statistical error). Wouldn’t an overwhelming “yes” coming from pensioners and the disabled be much more likely to make Westminster realise the severity of the situation?