A week today, starting at 10am on Monday 16th November, an act of political record keeping resurrection will commence as the lost marked register from the Glenrothes Westminster Parliamentary by-election is recreated.
The lost of the Glenrothes marked register caused more controversy than such loses usually do both because it happened at a Parliamentary by-election and because the result in that election was, to many people, a surprise.
The Goverment’s reaction to the loss of marked registers after the 2005 general election was underwhelming. As I described it in February:
In other words [the Government line is]: ‘we don’t know on what dates records were received, we haven’t made an assessment, and let’s shift the buck around a bit’. Woking’s marked register was lost in its entirety and although in other Parliamentary questions the government stuck to the line that this was the only data lost, that didn’t seem to chime with people’s experiences.
For Glenrothes, however, a special House of Commons order has been made allowing the inspection of other records which have not been lost and from which the marked register can be recreated.
The records in question are the “corresponding number lists”, which had electoral register numbers written on them as each ballot paper was handed out and at the same time as numbers were crossed off on the (now lost) marked register. Therefore the list of register numbers from these corresponding number lists can easily, if slowly, be used to recreate the marked register.
The recreated marked register will be available for public inspection in the usual way once it has been compiled.
And if you’re wondering why there are both corresponding number lists and a marked register – the former allow individual ballot papers to be traced, e.g. in the case of suspected postal vote fraud, and are therefore kept secret whilst the marked register is made public for inspection and does not have that extra tracing information.
(Thanks to Andrew Reeves for providing me with copies of the correspondence about the above.)