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Explained: How will Covid affect vote counting and election results?

From campaigning restrictions to postal voting and social distancing in place for those casting their ballot in person, the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election is set to be the most significant since devolution – but also the most unusual. 

In fact, Covid restrictions will have an impact on counting and cause delays in results. Here is everything you need to know about the timeline of events. 

How will votes be counted? 

The Scottish Council by-elections last Autumn were the only one held during the pandemic so far and therefore are being held as a model for procedures. 

Vote counting and verification was done electronically then, making the process swift despite restrictions. 

However, this will not be done for Scottish Parliament elections, so count lay-outs and processes will be different. 

READ MORE: Record wait for Holyrood election results expected

Poll set-up is in the hands of Returning Officers – officials responsible for handling the electoral process – and physical distancing arrangements in place at the counts are at their discretion. 

They have the power to restrict the number of counting agents to enable social distancing, but, under Electoral Commission guidelines, they must still guarantee the integrity of the election.

Considering a limited amount of agents will be allowed at count venues, it is likely that counting will take longer than usual. 

When will results be announced?

On Thursday, May 6, polls will be open between 7am and 10pm. Usually, volunteers would be counting from Thursday night until the early hours of Friday, but this time around there will be no overnight count and no exit poll. 

Instead, counting will start between 9am and 10am on Friday, May 7. According to the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, 47 constituencies will wrap up voting and declare results by the end of Friday. 

Votes for the remaining 26 constituencies will be counted on Saturday, May 8, however, regional results won’t be calculated and declared until the last constituency in each region has concluded counting. 


Which constituency results are expected on Friday?

  • Airdrie and Shotts
  • Coatbridge and Chryston
  • Falkirk East
  • Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse
  • Motherwell and Wishaw
  • Glasgow Anniesland
  • Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn
  • Glasgow Pollok
  • Glasgow Southside
  • Rutherglen
  • Argyll and Bute
  • Caithness, Sutherland and Ross
  • Na h-Eileanan an Iar
  • Inverness and Nairn
  • Moray
  • Orkney Islands
  • Shetland Islands
  • Edinburgh Central
  • Edinburgh Southern
  • Edinburgh Western
  • Linlithgow
  • Midlothian North and Musselburgh
  • Clackmannanshire and Dunblane
  • Cowdenbeath
  • Kirkcaldy
  • North East Fife
  • Perthshire North
  • Stirling
  • Aberdeen Central
  • Aberdeen Donside
  • Aberdeenshire East
  • Angus North and Mearns
  • Banffshire and Buchan Coast
  • Dundee City West
  • Ayr
  • East Lothian
  • Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire
  • Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley
  • Clydebank and Milngavie
  • Cunninghame North
  • Cunninghame South
  • Dumbarton
  • Eastwood
  • Greenock and Inverclyde
  • Paisley
  • Renfrewshire North and West
  • Strathkelvin and Bearsden


Which constituency results will be announced on Saturday?

  • Cumbernauld and Kilsyth
  • East Kilbride
  • Falkirk West
  • Uddingston and Bellshill
  • Glasgow Cathcart
  • Glasgow Kelvin
  • Glasgow Provan
  • Glasgow Shettleston
  • Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch
  • Almond Valley
  • Edinburgh Eastern
  • Edinburgh Northern and Leith
  • Edinburgh Pentlands
  • Dunfermline
  • Mid Fife and Glenrothes
  • Perthshire South and Kinrossshire
  • Aberdeen South and North Kincardine
  • Aberdeenshire West
  • Angus South
  • Dundee City East
  • Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley
  • Clydesdale
  • Dumfriesshire
  • Galloway and West Dumfrie
  • Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale
  • Renfrewshire South
  • All the regional lists



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