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Voting Systems

Voting Systems

Single Transferable Vote STV

The Single Transferable Vote (STV) was used for the first time in Scotland at the local government elections which took place on 3 May 2007.

Instead of marking a cross, voters indicate their preferences on the ballot paper by ranking the candidates in order (first, second, third, etc.) and may vote in this way for as many or as few of the listed candidates as they wish.

A formula is then used to calculate who is elected for each ward. Each Council ward returns either three or four councillors to represent local people. As a further innovation, the counting for this type of election is now done electronically. This is designed to speed up the counting process and improve the accuracy of the results.

First Past the Post

First Past the Post (FPTP) voting takes place in single-member parliamentary constituencies. To vote under FPTP, the voter simply puts a cross on the ballot paper next to one candidate. The candidate with the most votes wins.

Additional Member System

The Additional Member System (AMS) elects representatives from geographic constituencies and others from party lists under a form of proportional representation.

There are two ways an MSP can be elected. Each elector (voter) has two votes. Scotland is divided into 73 constituencies and each constituency elects one MSP. These are known as constituency MSPs and are elected by 'first past the post' in exactly the same way as MPs are elected to Westminster. This is the elector's 'first vote'.

The 'second vote' is used to elect 56 additional members. Scotland is divided into 8 parliamentary Regions and each region elects 7 regional MSPs. In the second vote the voter votes for a party rather than a candidate. The parties are then allocated a number of additional members to make the overall result more proportional. The regional MSPs are selected from lists compiled by the parties. These MSPs are also sometimes referred to as List MSPs