The concerns emerge in the minutes of private meetings held by the commission, which have been released to Channel 4 News under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the watchdog does not believe the Scottish government is proposing to give it the power to have proper oversight of the referendum. The documents also reveal the electoral commission “does not favour” holding the poll on a Saturday and that it believes it would “not be acceptable” for the Scottish government to test the fairness of the referendum question itself.
The Scottish government originally opposed any role for the watchdog in supervising the vote, which it wants to hold in autumn 2014. But in January, First Minister Alex Salmond invited the electoral commission to regulate the referendum after all, following assurances it could be made answerable to the Scottish Parliament.
Setting out his plans in a consultation document and draft bill, Mr Salmond said the referendum should meet “the highest standards of fairness, transparency and propriety”. The electoral commission published its official response to both Scottish and UK government consultations on the issue in March.