Politics / Covid restrictions will make for different election

Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

THE UPCOMING Scottish Parliament election in May will feel somewhat different than usual due to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an update given to parliament on Tuesday, MSP Graeme Dey, the minister for parliamentary business, said no more than 800 electors will be assigned to a polling station.

Locally the Gilbertson Park games hall is the largest polling place, but its 4,000-plus voters are usually split into seven polling stations.

In the last Scottish Parliament election in 2016 more than 800 people were registered for the Scalloway polling station.

The upcoming vote will take place on Thursday 6 May but counting is likely to be held on Friday and Saturday if needed rather than overnight as usual.

This is due to physical distancing requirements meaning there will be less people counting.

Dey also revealed that face to face, door to door campaigning could take place from early April if infection and test positivity rates are low enough.


Leafleting will be able to start from mid-March.

The MSP also said the prospect of party leaders travelling to any given constituency is being looked into.

Candidates and agents can travel to the constituency if necessary if the work cannot be undertaken at home.

Guidance is being prepared for campaigners.

Dey said it would be a “judgement call” for parties to decide whether they want to undertake campaigning activities such as going door to door.

He stressed that street stalls and hustings, and giving voters a lift to polling stations, will not be allowed.

The number of people registering for postal votes has also risen significantly.

Shetland Islands Council has been contacted regarding the local take-up of postal votes.

Dey said: “An enormous amount of work has taken place across our electoral community to ensure that the election in May can be conducted safely. It is as a result of the hard work of electoral professionals over the course of the winter that I am confident the election can go ahead on 6 May.”

The only confirmed candidates announced for the main constituency vote for Shetland so far are Liberal Democrat Beatrice Wishart, the SNP’s Tom Wills and Labour’s Cameron Thompson.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.