A REFERENDUM rush has seen the electorate soar by 30,000 in the last three months as Lothian voters race to decide Scotland’s future on September 18.
It means a record number of residents are now on the electoral roll and registered to vote in the independence referendum.
Official figures are still being finalised but out of an estimated 705,000 citizens eligible to vote, around 645,000 are now registered.
Lothian’s electoral registration officer, Joan Hewton, said: “There were 613,400 people registered to vote in Lothian at the European Parliament elections at the end of May. It looks as if we will have around 645,000 registered for the referendum.”
The high turnover of population in Edinburgh and the large number of second homes in the city meant it was impossible to reach 100 per cent, she said. But Ms Hewton was pleased with a lofty figure which represents more than 90 per cent of eligible voters. “I think that’s probably as many as you could hope to get for Edinburgh and the highest we’ve ever had,” she said.
It comes after a massive effort by Ms Hewton’s staff – working alongside the Electoral Commission – to get as many people signed up as possible.
She said: “We have had a lot of interest and a very high volume of calls.”
The campaign has included advertisements on lampposts, a concerted drive to register 16 and 17-year-olds – who are permitted to vote for the first time – and visits to universities where students have been advised to register at their home address if they are not going to be at university on September 18.
The Electoral Commission said it had seen a “phenomenal” response to the registration campaign, with more than 50,000 forms downloaded from its website in the first ten days.
The commission sent out 2.5 million booklets explaining how to vote – one to every household in Scotland.
It also broadcast adverts on TV and radio and took to social media to reach new young voters.
Andy O’Neill, head of the commission’s Scotland office, said: “There’s a huge amount of interest in the referendum and that’s reflected in the unprecedented response.”
The city said it was expecting a record 85,000 postal votes in Edinburgh, a rise on a previous high of 60,000 and more than double the 40,000 postal votes dispatched at the European elections.
Chief executive Sue Bruce, who is spearheading the referendum count in the Capital, issued a last-minute appeal for people to register.
Writing in the Evening News, she said: “As counting officer for Edinburgh, I want everyone to have the opportunity to vote, and the only way they can do this is by making sure they’re on the electoral roll and by filling out their ballot paper correctly, with an ‘X’ in the box next to the answer they choose.”
The deadline for registering is midnight on Tuesday. Information on how to register is at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.