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Election / Electorate largest yet as voters prepare to go to polls in Holyrood election

Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

THE NUMBER of people registered to vote in Shetland at tomorrow’s (Thursday) Scottish Parliament election is the highest of any local Holyrood election to date.

The total electorate for the Shetland constituency this time around is 18,134.

On 1 December 2019 after the Shetland by-election there were 17,964 registered voters in the isles.

This year a total of 4,679 people have chosen postal votes, which is a marked increase on previous years.

As with previous Scottish Parliament elections, 16 and 17 year olds are eligible to vote.

Shetland Islands Council, meanwhile, has taken steps to make local polling stations as safe as possible for voters.

Screens and hand sanitisers will be in place at polling places and there will be regular cleaning of booths.

Voters should wear a face mask and physical distancing requirements will be in place inside polling stations.

Clean pencils will be available for each person, although voters can take their own pencil or pen if they wish. Staff will be on hand throughout the day to offer assistance where required.

Across Shetland, 34 polling stations will be open from 7am until 10pm to allow local people to cast their votes for the election.

Seven polling stations will be located in the main hall of the Clickimin Centre, for 3,837 voters in Lerwick, instead of at the usual Gilbertson Park Hall, while the smallest will be at the Uyeasound Public Hall in Unst with 95 voters.

People will be given two votes – one for a candidate for the Shetland seat, and another for a party, or independent candidate, on the Highlands and Islands regional list.

Ballot boxes from the islands will be taken by ferry to the Shetland mainland, while other ballot boxes will go by road.

As a knock-on effect of coronavirus regulations, counting will take place from 9.30am on Friday (7 May) instead of through the night.

Around 34 staff will be involved in the counting and audit of ballot papers at the Clickimin.

Declaration of the Shetland constituency is expected to take place in the afternoon, while public notice of the local regional result is anticipated after 5pm.

Shetland News will be present at Friday’s count to provide live updates.

Returning officer for the Shetland Islands constituency Jan Riise said: “In the last 12 months or so, we’ve all become used to wearing masks, using hand sanitiser and keeping our distance from each other.

“Polling day will be no different and we’ve done everything we can to ensure that voters in Shetland can cast their votes in safety.

“I’d urge all those who are registered to vote to exercise their democratic right by casting their vote at their allocated polling station.”

There are six candidates contesting the Shetland seat. They are in alphabetical order: Martin Kerr (Labour), Brian Nugent (Restore Scotland); Peter Tait (Independent), Nick Tulloch (Conservatives), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Liberal Democrats).

To find out more about all the candidates standing in the election, including those on the regional Highlands and Islands list, visit our Scottish Parliament election 2021 page here.