SNP president Michael Russell has refused a plea to give members a chance to edit their vote in the party's leadership contest.

The suggestion was put forward earlier in the day by Ash Regan, one of the three MSPs vying to replace Nicola Sturgeon.


The former community safety minister said she had been reassured about the integrity of the vote following on from last week’s chaos. However, she suggested members should be able to "update" their vote.

She claimed this would “have the benefit of not disrupting members who are happy with their vote while providing an opportunity to reconsider for those who are not.”

Ms Regan's team said there was a precedent within the party, and pointed to the 2015 selection battle for Dunfermline and West Fife when Michelle Thomson was on the shortlist but then removed her name after being selected for Edinburgh West.

Members who had already backed in the ballot were able to edit their vote.

Ms Regan - who said she know trusted the integrity of the ballot - also called for each candidate to be allowed to send one email to all members using the SNP mailing system with a "message that reflects current events."

READ MORE: Regan calls for SNP members to be able to change vote

Mr Russell - who is the party's acting chief executive following the resignation of Peter Murrell on Saturday - spurned both calls. 

In a statement released on Monday evening, he said: “I have heard from each of the candidates, or their teams, today and I am glad that we are all working together to ensure that there is confidence in the integrity of the current process.   

“On the specific issues raised today, it would clearly be massively disruptive and confusing for members to be able to recall their ballot - something that is not done in any public election and which cyber security experts have advised, most recently to the Conservatives when they considered an online ability to change a vote, could be subject to hacking attempts. 

“Moreover, the precedent cited by one of the candidates does not provide any sort of comparison, and potentially exists only where a candidate had withdrawn or been removed, from a contest."

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“On the question of another statement from candidates, the rules and practice governing the ballot were made very clear to the candidates from the beginning and accepted by them when they chose to take part. 

“Of course, the views of all the candidates on internal and external issues pertaining to the contest have been widely shared through nine hustings - most of which were live-streamed - five TV debates and in every media outlet.   

“It is, frankly, very unlikely that any member could be unaware of the vital matters at stake, the key issues that impact on our country and the party, and the candidates 'views on them."

He said it was up to the party's ruling NEC to "set the rules for the contest."

"Those rules are clear and we have rightly proceeded on that basis to date," he added. “We will continue to do so and would therefore hope that this allows all three candidates to focus for the last few days of the campaign on the positive case they can and are making for their leadership bid and of course for independence.”