How to vote in the council elections

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The Council elections on 4 May will use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system.

To ensure the best chance of electing a strong team of SNP councillors up and down the country, putting local services first, here’s what you need to know.


In STV elections, you vote using numbers.

Your ballot paper will list all the candidates who are standing in your ward. There may be more than one candidate standing for the SNP, and for other parties.

You will be asked to rank your candidates in order of your choice using 1, 2, 3 and so on. You can make as many or as few choices as you wish, and you don’t have to number every candidate.

Don’t use ‘X’ or any other marks or your vote may not be counted!


The best way to elect as many SNP councillors as possible, is to vote for all SNP candidates on your ballot paper.

Counting at an STV election takes place in stages. At the first stage, any candidate is elected if they receive more than 25 per cent of the first-preference votes in three seat wards, or 20 per cent of the first-preference votes in four seat wards.

Once candidates are elected, a portion of their votes are transferred to other candidates. If there are no candidates with enough votes to be elected at any stage in the process, the candidate with the smallest number of votes is excluded and all of their votes are transferred to the next available choice.

This process is continued until all the seats in the ward have been filled.

If the SNP candidate who you ranked as number ‘1’ is elected, you can still help elect another SNP candidate but only if you give them a preference. This is why you should rank all of the SNP candidates on your ballot paper.


How you rank your SNP candidates is important.

You may receive a leaflet or information from your local SNP campaign about which order to rank your SNP candidates. It is important to follow these instructions as they will be designed to elect the maximum number of SNP councillors in your area.

If you wish to go on to rank further down the ballot - marking preferences for non-SNP candidates - you should do so according to your own personal preferences. It's up to you, the voter!

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