Voting on Gigha sparks interest – again!

Published Date: 

24 May 2019 - 14:22
Charles Reppke

The journey votes from Gigha make to be counted sparked interest again today/on Friday.

Charles Reppke, Returning Officer for Argyll and Bute’s European Election, became the centre of tourist attention when he took to the sea to collect Gigha’s ballots.

Charles, who has been key in organising Argyll and Bute’s elections for more than 20 years, said:

“I took the ferry to Gigha to collect the island’s votes. A group of tourists who were on the ferry slip  came over to speak to me and were really interested in the whole process of making sure island votes are counted. It probably helped right enough that BBC Alba was there with a camera.

As one took a photo for their Facebook page of me, the ballot box and Gigha looking lovely, it will be more good publicity for the area which is great.”

This isn’t the first time that Charles’ journey to Gigha has achieved positive attention for Argyll and Bute in general, and Gigha in particular; a photo of him waiting for the ferry was used around the world, from America to South Africa, in coverage about the EU Referendum!

Charles, originally from Campbeltown, has seen a lot of change in the running of elections over the years:

“Co-ordinating elections in Argyll and Bute is fairly complex. We need more than 400 people and 125 polling stations to run them, and a mix of road, see and air transport to get votes to the count. When counts are overnight we use helicopters to bring votes in from islands. There are a limited number of pilots qualified to fly at night, we’re grateful for the skills of those who work with us.

When I first got involved in elections, there were about 1,500 people in Argyll and Bute who used postal voting, now there are 12,000 to 14,000. The Electoral Commission in Scotland didn’t exist 20 years ago; now it provides advice and information for councils across Scotland, which helps a lot with changing regulations around for example proxy voting.

We have used a wide range of venues as polling stations from village halls, schools, or fire stations to caravans, golf clubs and an inn!

Running elections is a huge team effort and as Returning Officer, I have the pleasure of working with committed and efficient people across Argyll and Bute.”

Local totals from Argyll and Bute will be announced on Sunday night  26 May, with the 6 MEP representatives  for Scotland announced on Monday 27 May.