Highlands & Islands

Single Transferable Vote gives voters more choice, reform society says

Ballot box
Image caption First Past the Post was used for local authority elections in England

The Electoral Reform Society Scotland has said a voting system causing Highland Independent councillors concern gives people more choice.

Highland Council's Independent Group has said voters were confused by the Single Transferable Vote (STV).

The councillors believe it was a factor behind a low turnout at this month's local authority elections.

The reform society said STV gave voters greater influence on results than the former system, First Past the Post.

Its analysis of council elections in Scotland and England, where First Past the Post was used, showed voters north of the border having a better chance of getting who they voted for.

In Edinburgh this was 72.66%, Glasgow 75.93% and Dundee 79.78%.

For Portsmouth the figure was 46.17%, Birmingham 54.98% and Manchester 65.22%.

Willie Sullivan, director of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland, said: "Scotland now has a local democracy we can all be proud of, and getting rid of First Past the Post made that possible.

"With the Single Transferable Vote people have got a real say on who runs their local authorities."

The turnout at polling stations in the Highlands on 3 May was 41%, while the postal vote was 66%. There was a 53.85% turnout at the last election in 2007.

STV was also used in 2007.

Turnout proposals

Highland Council's administration is led by the SNP and involves Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors.

Margaret Davidson and Isabelle Campbell have put a motion to a full council meeting on Thursday.

The motion reads: "The Independent Group is very disappointed at the low turnout in the recent election and we believe people are confused by the STV system.

"We propose that this council forms a short life cross party working group to formulate proposals to Scottish government on ways of increasing voter turnout and engaging with the electorate."

STV sees voters rank their preference of candidates - first, second, third and so on.

A quota and formulae system then decides which candidates are elected based on the preferences.

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