Local elections in Scotland use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) voting system. 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.
Once the total number of valid ballot papers has been counted, the minimum number of votes sufficient to secure the election of a candidate is calculated (called the “quota”). The ballot papers are sorted according to the first preferences (first choices) marked by the voters and the total number of votes for each candidate is counted.
Any candidate whose vote equals or exceeds the quota is elected. If any candidate has more votes than the quota, that surplus above the quota must be transferred in accordance with the second and later preferences recorded on the ballot papers.
If after all the surpluses have been transferred some vacancies remain to be filled, the candidate with fewest votes is excluded and that candidate’s votes are transferred in accordance with the second and later preferences recorded on the ballot papers.
The transfers of votes continue, stage by stage, until all the vacancies have been filled, with any surplus being transferred before any exclusion is made.