North-east election officials paused vote-counting to protect the ‘welfare of staff’ after the process in the Aberdeenshire East seat was hit by delays.
The length of time it took to count the closely-contested Banffshire and Buchan Coast had a knock-on effect on the count, and officials took the decision to pause it for the welfare of staff, who had been working for 12 hours.
Ballot papers will be stored securely overnight in secured ballot boxes under the protection of security staff.
The counting process will begin again tomorrow morning at 9am at P&J Live.
‘Very restrictive working environment’
Aberdeenshire returning officer Jim Savege said every precaution had been taken to keep the votes secure.
“We have made good progress with the constituency and the list for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, and that took us a bit longer than we thought it would,” he said.
“We have also made good progress with Aberdeenshire East and we’ve carried out the first verification process.
“We’ve decided at this stage to pause and continue with the count in the morning at 9am. The reason for that is the staff have been here since 8am.
“It’s a very restrictive working environment for them with Covid-19, wearing facemasks all day and with very little movement available for them.
“For their wellbeing and welfare, we have made the decision to pause.
“The ballot boxes will be kept in secure storage overnight, and they were in the exact same secure storage on Thursday night. There are security guards and CCTV, and the papers are back in ballot boxes, which are zip-tied secure.
“They are exactly where the Aberdeenshire West ballot papers are and they are totally secure.”