CONTINGENCY planning is under way in case the pandemic prevents next year’s Holyrood election from going ahead as normal.

Talk of delaying the election has been denied in recent months but as the May poll grows closer, the Scottish Government, the Electoral Commission, Scottish Parliament officials and political parties are assessing options.

It is not yet known what alternatives are being considered, although a report in the Sunday Mail suggests that moving polling day to October and a 100% postal vote were both under consideration.

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Speaking on the BBC's Politics Scotland programme, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the preference of the Scottish Government would be to go ahead as planned in May.

He said: "There's a bit of uncertainty about the period that lies ahead, the Government's plan and Parliament's plan is that the election should take place as scheduled on the first Thursday in May.

"There are some contingencies being looked at by Parliament and all parties – we'll continue to discuss those issues because it's vital we should have that democratic process to enable the people of Scotland to choose their government.

"From the Government's point of view we want the election to go ahead in May."

If the election were to go ahead while coronavirus was not fully under control, questions have been raised about the ability of party members and supporters to canvas for votes, and around how the public can cast their ballots in a safe way.