Another council sets up emergency postal vote centre

A red post box with an envelope addressed to East Renfrewshire Council's Returning Officer, containing a postal ballot
Most councils say any voters in the second batch of mailouts should receive a voting pack on Saturday [BBC]

Another Scottish council has set up an emergency facility for voters planning to be away next week who have not yet received their postal voting ballots.

East Lothian Council said replacement voting packs would be issued in Prestonpans for those who will be away from Monday. The move follows similar measures in Edinburgh and Fife.

BBC Scotland News has contacted all 32 of the country's councils to ask for guidance for voters who have not yet received their postal ballot.

Most councils said the last remaining voting packs should be delivered on Saturday, and anyone still waiting should get in touch on Monday.

East Lothian voters can obtain replacement postal ballot papers from 14:00 to 16:00 on Saturday and from 11:00 to 16:00 on Sunday from the Meadowmill Sports Centre in Prestonpans. ID must be shown.

Replacements were also being issued at Edinburgh City Chambers over the weekend, and at Fife House in Glenrothes until 16:00 on Saturday.

The UK deadline to apply for postal vote applications was 19 June

Any long-term postal voters or those who applied before 7 June should have received their voting pack last week.

But many people were unaware that if they applied after 7 June, their voting papers would be sent out in a second tranche, with some only despatched in recent days.

In Scotland, where the school term ends earlier than elsewhere in the UK, some voters had left the country for summer holidays before their postal ballots arrived.

For those still in the country and without a voting pack, replacement packs can be obtained from council offices early next week.

If voters are concerned about posting dates for returning them, many councils have arrangements for handing them in at council offices, or they can be handed in by voters in person on polling day itself at their local polling station.

But for anyone already out of the country there is little that can be done, barring a return home to vote.

The deadline for proxy votes has passed and emergency proxy votes are only possible in limited circumstances such as being called away suddenly for work.

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The Electoral Management Board for Scotland (EMB), which co-ordinates and supports the work of returning officers and other council officials, said there had been "many difficulties" with the delivery of postal votes.

Royal Mail said it had investigated concerns over the delivery of postal votes in some areas but had found no backlogs in any of its offices in Scotland.

The EMB believes there should be a "major review of capacity and systems" after the 4 July general election.

EMB secretary Chris Highcock said deadlines were always tight but the timing of this election when many Scottish voters take their holidays was a complicating factor.

He told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that all materials had to be prepared in secure printing facilities.

"The timetable is such that we're only able to prepare ballot papers once we know who's going to be on the ballot paper for UK elections," he said.

"We're doing all we can to ensure that every voter that's entitled to vote in this election is able to take part."

Mr Highcock, who is also returning officer in Edinburgh, added: "In Scotland, 20% of all voters are now postal voters - that has grown significantly in the last few years."

For those who plan to vote at polling places on Thursday, they open at 07:00 and will remain open until 22:00.