Understand How To Vote In The Forthcoming Scottish Election

On the 5th May, the people of Scotland will vote to elect Members Of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs).

Every registered voter received a leaflet from the Electoral Commission that explained the voting system.

If reading the leaflet left you with unanswered questions, read on.

There are eight regions in Scotland, with seven MSPs for each region, giving a total of 56 regional MSPs.

Within thoses eight regions that are 73 constituencies, divided roughly equally across the regions.

So the total number of MSPs is 129 (56+73)

Therefore, everyone in Scotland is represented by eight MSPs – one constituency MSP and seven regional MSPs.

MSPs serve currently for four years, and the last election was in 2011 – hence the election on 5th May. That’s changing and those elected on 5th May will serve for five years to keep in line with European Union terms and the rest of the UK. The idea is that it will help cut costs by not having elections in different years.

At the polling station everyone will be handed two voting slips – a lilac voting slip for the constituency MSP and a peach-coloured voting slip for the regional MSP.

The lilac constituency ballot paper lists the name of each candidate along with their party name and party logo.

The peach regional ballot paper lists the parties and any independent candidates. It does not list the names of the party candidates.

So in essence and leaving independents out of the picture, you vote regionally for a party, and locally for a person.

Constituency candidates are elected on a first-past-the-post system.

Regional votes are counted using the Additional Member System. The system attempts to ensure that it is unlikely that one party will dominate the seats or that any party that gets less than 7% of the vote will get a seat.

A party can list up to 12 regional candidates in each of the 8 electoral regions and could get up to seven members voted in at the election. The remaining people on the list are there to fill in any places that become vacant during the next five years due to death or other cause.

The City of Edinburgh Council has a link where you can download the Lothian Regional party lists for each party.

The Scottish Regions

The Scottish Regions for the election of MSPs