Seven candidates line up for Edinburgh's Craigentinny/Duddingston council by-election

VOTERS in Craigentinny/Duddingston will have seven candidates to choose from when they go to the polls in a by-election next month to choose a new councillor.
The by-election will take place on November 12The by-election will take place on November 12
The by-election will take place on November 12

But there are fears of a low turn-out on November 12 because of Covid, although council officials say additional hygiene and distancing measures will be in place at polling stations.

The by-election has been caused by the resignation in February of SNP councillor Ian Campbell on health grounds. Nominations closed last night and the seven candidates bidding to replace him are:

Elaine Ford, Scottish Liberal Democrats

Margaret Arma Graham, Scottish Labour Party

Tam Laird, Scottish Libertarian Party

Andrew McDonald, Independent

Ben Parker, Scottish Green Party

Eleanor Price, Scottish Conservative and Unionist

Ethan Young, Scottish National Party (SNP)

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Craigentinny/Duddingston is one of the city’s larger wards with an electorate of 24,258. However, politicians across the parties fear health concerns around Covid might deter voters from turning out and the council is reminding people they can apply to vote by post or proxy. As of October 9, 3,693 people had already registered for a postal vote.

Those voting in person will be expected to wear a face covering inside the polling station and use the hand sanitiser provided as they enter and leave. There may be a one-way system in and out of the polling station and social distancing may mean a limit on he number of people allowed inside at any one time. Polling staff will be behind protective screens and will carry out regular cleaning of polling booths. And fresh clean pencils will be available for each voter, though people can take their own pen or pencil if they wish.

Returning officer Andrew Kerr said in order to take part in the election, people in the area must sure they are registered to vote by October 27.

"I want to reassure residents that we’re making every effort to help them to vote safely and our elections team is working hard to put measures in place for the protection of voters and staff. I would also urge those who can’t or would prefer not to vote in person on the day to apply for a postal or proxy vote.”

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The deadline for applying for a postal vote is 5pm on Wednesday October 28 and the deadline for applying for a proxy vote is 5pm on Wednesday November 4.

Councils have no power to opt for postal-only ballots. Such a move would require legislation in the Scottish Parliament, although a pilot postal-only ballot was held for the Colinton by-election in 2004 and there has been speculation next year’s Scottish Parliament elections could be made all-postal.

A survey by the Electoral Commission found 77 per cent of people would feel safe voting in person at a polling station with appropriate hygiene measures and physical distancing in place and only 17 per cent said they would feel unsafe.

West Lothian Council recently announced a by-election due in Livingston South had been postponed for the second time. The contest had been due to be held on October 1 and was first put off until November 5, but has now been rescheduled for March 11.

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