STUDENTS at Ellon Academy went to the polls on Thursday, as the school held its second election.
By lunchtime on Thursday, nearly half of the school’s 1,100 pupils had voted, with an enthusiastic uptake far exceeding that normally found in a real election.
There were no signs as of lunchtime as to who the victor would be, though SNP candidate Keiran Murphy told the Times that the Nationalists were confident of unseating the Liberal Democrats, represented by Hollie Baxter who was fighting the seat her brother won last year.
“Hollie is very popular, but we’ve been getting our message out to as many people as possible, and we think that it will make a difference. We anticipate a close fight between the Lib-Dems and the Nationalists.”
Across Aberdeenshire, last year’s results indicated a lead of just 100 votes for the Nationalists, with a close contest for second place between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, perhaps reflecting traditional voting patterns in the area which has a much lower Labour representation than other areas of Scotland.
Ellon alone went to the Lib Dems, with the other schools being Nationalist wins, excepting Portlethen which enthusiastically embraced the Conservative message. Mr Morrison told the Times: “It’s a very slick operation we’re running. There is ample space for voters to queue - we need it, given that we have people arriving 50 at a time. Each election officer is assigned a specific task in relation to the voting process, and thus far we have had no spoilt ballots, which is very impressive.”
The official count at Inverurie Academy on Friday was a thoroughly professional affair, with representatives of Aberdeenshire’s electoral service on hand to tally the votes, including Aberdeenshire’s chief executive, Colin Mackenzie.
By 1pm it had been announced that Ellon Academy was a Lib Dem hold, with Hollie Baxter retaining her brother’s seat for what is rapidly becoming a local political dynasty, with 298 votes to Keiran Murphy’s 270.
Carolyn Bowron, who stood for Labour said that she was “delighted” with the result, which saw her increase the Labour vote significantly on their result last year.
The results for the second vote were also announced, which showed a victory for the Nationalists in both Ellon and Aberdeenshire.
Tempers flared, however, when SNP candidate Murphy discovered that despite receiving more second votes than the other parties, the Nationalists would have been granted less additional seats than the other parties due to the vagaries of the D’Hondt electoral calculations. Discussing the matter with election officers, he argued: “People have a right to know that their second votes don’t count.”
The overall results for the shire showed a much more mixed result than last year’s, with the Nationalists losing seats to the Greens, Lib Dems and Conservatives in a number of schools across the shire, though taking the most significant share of the second votes.
Cllr Martin Ford, who was present on the day, told the Times: “I’m very pleased with the Green vote - particularly in Banchory, where a Green representative was elected by the school.”