Laura Sharman 26 April 2022

Scottish voters making more use of the single transferable vote

Scottish voters making more use of the single transferable vote image
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Voters in Scotland are making increased use of the single transferable vote (STV) in local elections, according to new analysis.

The research by elections expert Professor Sir John Curtice shows that in 2017, 85.8% of valid ballot papers contained at least two preferences, with 60.7% containing three or more preferences.

It also found around seven in 10 voters also expressed support for more than one party when there were no more candidates of their first-choice party to rank.

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: 'In Scotland, we see an electorate that has embraced this new form of voting – ranking their preferences instead of being forced by a winner takes all system to take a gamble on one option, which they often view as the least worst.

'With local authorities in Wales now also able to make the change to STV, the results in Scotland offer a powerful example of the benefits of adopting a fairer system. Where local councils north of the border have led the way it’s time for the rest of the UK to follow and embrace the power of preferences, so making proportional representation the norm.'

STV was introduced in Scotland in 2007 and allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

Professor Sir John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, said: 'On the one hand, voters were more likely to cast multiple preferences than previously, and in so doing to rank candidates from more than one party. Moreover, lower preferences influenced the outcome in seats to a greater extent than before.

'On the other hand, voters were less likely than previously to express preferences across the constitutional fault line that divides Scottish politics. Independence supporters were less likely to give a lower preference to a unionist candidate, while backers of the Union were less likely to give a lower preference to a pro-independence candidate.'

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