THE Yes DIY page asked for contributions to the debate on postal voting and the Yes movement. Here are my thoughts so far.

I was an observer of the postal vote both at the 2014 independence referendum and at the 2015 General Election. I had experience in observing at polling stations.

The computer software to check signatures and date of birth was produced by a company of which Peter Lilley, former Conservative government minister in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, was a director.

The software requires to be checked and verified as being accurate and unable to be tampered with. Sample testing should be introduced if possible to verify, for example, that the person had actually voted, were entitled to vote etc.

I am unaware of good guidance for those observing postal votes in what they are entitled to do and what specifically needs to be looked out for. This needs to be rectified. The following are based on my observations as an observer without having been in receipt of good guidance.

Monitoring ballot box voting requires one-day commitment, but the postal vote process requires 10-plus days commitment, which may be difficult to cover. This must be taken into account when deciding how many individuals can be taken on by candidates or sides in a referendum.

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At polling stations, observers have the right to check that a ballot box is empty at 7am, before voting starts. No opportunity was given for observers to check any postal vote box was empty before it started to be used.

Ballot boxes at polling stations are fitted with security tags before voting starts and observers can note security tag numbers at the polling station and check them at the count before opening. Similarly, when voting closes, the tag securing the slot in the ballot box is fitted and the observer can note the number. I was specifically refused permission to take a note of postal vote box security tag numbers during the postal vote procedure on the grounds that it would breach security.

Procedure from immediately after the votes have been indicated as valid and the number validated out of each original bundle of 50, then wrapped in the yellow “batch” sheets is not, in my opinion, satisfactory, particularly during the independence referendum. As indicated below:

- 15 postal ballot boxes were processed on the first day, September 2, and secured with two tags in place.

- From September 2 until September 12, only two tags had been put on each postal ballot box (each box containing approximately 750 voting papers).

- By September 12, another 16 boxes had been filled and secured with only two tags. No note had been made of the identification numbers of any of these tags in any of the 31 boxes at this stage.

- On September 12 the boxes had a third tag added to secure the slot. Only then were the identification number of these three tags recorded on record sheets.

- The record sheets were then attached to the relevant boxes. They were slipped into poly pockets. I believe that the record sheets should have been signed by the person who noted the numbers but this had not happened and would be caught up on Monday, September 15.

- As the sheets recording the tag identity numbers are in poly pockets attached to each box, they could be easily removed and replaced. No separate record was taken of the tag identity numbers used on the specific postal ballot boxes.

I believe a fourth tag was yet to be attached to all the boxes. In theory, if unauthorised access could be gained to the room, the tags could be cut off, votes removed and substituted, new tags fitted and new sheets substituted with the new tag identity numbers.

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The security of the votes in the boxes appears to rely on the security of the room in which the boxes are stored alone and not on the security of the tagging system.

Are there any stipulated security requirements set by the Government, eg CCTV coverage, for the rooms where boxes with postal votes are stored? Observers should be entitled to check the security of the rooms and that they comply with requirements stipulated by the Scottish Government or the Electoral Commission.

No information was provided about the transportation of the numerous postal vote ballot boxes to the count and whether observers can observe the transportation.

Any postal votes which are taken by the voter and handed into a polling station instead of being posted are placed in a package, not a secure box, and transported to the count. When is that dome and what security is there during transport?

At the count, after checking the number of ballot papers in the box, the contents of any ballot box must be mixed with those from other polling stations before the votes are counted. I have been told this is to avoid the way a particular polling station location has voted.

There is currently a rule that the contents of postal vote boxes must be mixed with those of polling station boxes. As postal votes are posted in from a full constituency area, the vote from a specific polling station area could not be identified.

It would be reassuring if each postal vote box was counted on its own – that would mean any tampering should be quite easily identified which would stop it being tried as it is unlikely to succeed.