Single Transferable Vote (STV)

How the Single Transferable Vote (STV) works

Scottish Local Government Elections are conducted under the Single Transferable Vote (STV) electoral system. This means voters should rank the candidates in order of their preference.

Voters should vote by numbering the candidates in the order of your choice, that is:

  • put the number 1 in the box next to the name of the candidate who is your first choice
  • 2 in the box next to your second choice
  • 3 in the box next to your third choice and so on.

You can make as many choices as you wish

How a candidate gets elected

Under the STV voting system a candidate requires a certain minimum number of votes to be elected. This minimum number is called the quota.

The formula for the quota is

(Valid votes cast)  ÷  (seats to be filled +1) + 1 vote

In this by-election there is 1 seat to fill, so the quota will be

(Valid votes cast) ÷ (1+1)   + 1 vote

This means that the winning candidate therefore needs to receive 50% of the total valid votes cast plus 1.

Counting the votes

Although the papers are counted electronically, the steps in the process, given there is only one vacancy, are the same

The first preferences, the 1s marked on each ballot paper, are counted.

If a candidate gets enough 1s to reach or exceed the quota they are elected.

If no-one reaches or exceeds the quota the candidate with the least number of votes is excluded from the contest and their votes transferred.

The votes from the excluded candidate are transferred to the other candidates going to the voters next preference marked on the ballot paper.

If no-one reaches or exceeds the quota the count continues by eliminating the remaining candidate who has the fewest votes and reallocating them to the voters’ next preference.

The count carries on through as many stages as are needed until finally a candidate reaches or exceeds the quota.

If only two candidates are left at any stage then the one with the most votes will be to be elected (even if they do not reach the quota).

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