Angus heads to the polls

Polling station sign
Polling station sign

Voters in Angus will go to the polls today (Thursday, May 4) to elect 28 councillors.

Under the single transferable voting system (STV), voters are asked to rank the candidates in order of preference, with three or four councillors being elected to serve any one ward.

Voting will take place until 10pm.

Votes will be counted tomorrow morning at the count centre in Arbroath.

STV was brought in to ensure that voters were better represented, as it is a form of proportional representation.

Instead of an X’, voters are asked to rank the candidates on their ballot paper in descending order of preference.

A common misconception is that you need to rank until there are no more candidates remaining, but in fact you can vote for as many or as few as you like.

If, for example, you only want to vote for two candidates, you can rank them “1” and “2” and leave the other boxes blank.

It is important to remember that if you mark any boxes with an X, as you would do for any other election, your vote will not be counted.

Counting votes in elections that use STV is a lot more complicated than counting in elections that use First Past the Post.

There is a quota for a candidate in a multi-member ward to be elected, which is worked out by dividing the number of ballots by the number of councillors to be elected.

For counting, the piles are sorted by first preference votes, ie the number of people who ranked a certain candidate number 1.

If a candidate receives more first preferences than the quota in the first round of voting, then they are automatically elected.

The elected candidates’ “surplus” votes, that is the votes over and above the quota which got them elected, are then redistributed amongst the remaining candidates.

If there are no more candidates elected immediately at this stage, then the candidate with the lowest votes is excluded.

Their votes (decided by second or third preference) are then transferred among their fellow candidates, with the exception of those that showed no further preferences or expressed a preference for the candidate already elected at the first stage.

This goes on, eliminating the bottom candidate, until the transfers ensure that the quota has been met by enough candidates.