What does Highland report reveal about elections?

Elderly woman's hands, post box and sheep Older people, postal votes and crofting have parts to play in Scotland's voting systems

Related Stories

Officers at Highland Council have reviewed the turnout at May's local elections. So, what does it say about the region's electorate?

Local authority elections were held throughout Scotland in May using the Single Transferable Vote system, or STV.

Officials at Highland Council were asked to provide councillors with a picture of the turnout, and suggest ways of encouraging more people to use their vote.

The officers' report on that review will be considered by Highland's community safety, public engagement and equalities committee on Wednesday.

Spreading the word

Highland Council designed and printed 115,000 election-related leaflets, which were sent to homes along with council tax letters.

It also issued six news releases about the election, while on its website it provided a guide on how to complete postal vote papers and also used Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness.

Increasing turnout report

PDF download Document Link URL[298KB]

Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader

For the first time the Electoral Commission had a statutory role in explaining to the public how to vote. It had an information booklet delivered to every household in Scotland, ran TV, radio, press and online adverts.

In an effort to grab the attention of young voters, animated characters Victor the Voter and Ballot Box Man were created.

Older voters were given information through joint efforts involving the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Human Rights Commission, while Shelter Scotland helped to reach people living in temporary accommodation.

Post modern

Encouraging greater use of postal votes could boost election results in the future, according to the Highland Council report.

The postal voting turnout was 62.7% across the local authority's 22 wards.

In the report, officers said: "Postal voters are more likely to use their vote, so further encouragement of this option should be pursued locally and nationally."

They have also suggested that other initiatives could be examined such as early voting, weekend voting and voting online.

Candidates could also be invited to write 250 words about their campaigns and the information then sent to voters.

Flagging polls

Turnout at Highland polling stations was not so great, at 37.7%.

Wick in Caithness had lowest below average turnout for a polling station with 23.8%

X does not mark the spot

Of 73,343 ballot papers processed at the Highland count in May, 912 votes were rejected.

Ballot paper A small number put a cross and not numbers on ballot papers

Officers said the rejection rate was 1.24%. In other parts of Scotland it varied from 0.55% in Orkney to 2.79% in Glasgow.

The report said a small number of people may not have understood the voting system and used an X, rather than numbers.

Older women, people with legal guardians and people aged 18 to 24 were the most likely to make mistakes, according to the report.

Know your A to V

Five different voting systems are used in statutory elections in Scotland.

First-past-the-post (FPTP) in UK parliamentary and Cairngorm National Park Authority elections; single transferable vote (STV) for local government and health boards; additional member system (AMS) in Scottish parliamentary elections; closed party list system (CPLS) for the European parliament and alternative vote (AV) in Crofting Commission elections.

What's next?

Highland Council say at least six elections and potentially two referendums could be held in the region from 2013 to 2017.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Highlands & Islands

Weather

Inverness

22 °C 15 °C

Features

  • Shinji Mikamo as a boy, and Hiroshima bomb cloudLove and the bomb

    The Japanese man who lost everything but found peace


  • Northern League supporters at the party's annual meeting in 2011Padania?

    Eight places in Europe that also want independence


  • scottie dogShow-stealers

    How Scottie dogs became a symbol of Scotland


  • Hamas rally in the West Bank village of Yatta, 2006Hamas hopes

    Why the Palestinian group won't back down yet


  • The outermost coffin of Tutankhamun 'Tut-mania'

    How discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb changed popular culture


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.