Issued by VoteScotland
A major campaign to encourage people to make their voice heard on 3 May is taking to the road to cover the length and breadth of Scotland to drive home the voting message.
This will be of interest to everyone living in Scotland aged 18 or over, but particularly those who haven’t voted before, such as young first-time voters.
With just over a month until Scotland goes to the polls, people are being urged to visit the VoteScotland roadshow which will give them all the information they need to be able to vote, including how to register and how to fill in their ballot paper on the day.
The roadshow tour is part of the politically neutral VoteScotland campaign, organised by the Scottish Executive and the Electoral Commission to inform people about the Scottish Parliamentary and council elections on 3 May and to encourage them to use their vote.
The five-week long event which kicked off today (Thursday, 29 March), at Scotland’s Gaelic college, Sabhal Mor Ostaig in Sleat on Skye, will tour Scotland from Shetland in the north to Stranraer in the south, to spread the voting message.
It will visit a range of locations in every council area, such as colleges, universities, town centres, supermarkets, and community and faith groups.
The roadshow is particularly aimed at young people, who are less likely to register and to vote - only 42 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds voted in the 2003 Scottish Parliamentary election.
Anyone who hasn’t yet registered can pick up forms at the event to ensure they can vote in the May elections. The final deadline to register is 18 April.
Visitors to the roadshow will be able to practice filling out ballot papers and can find out how the voting systems work by playing online games involving pop stars and footballers and by experiencing a virtual walk through of a polling station. There will also be the opportunity to sign up to receive a text reminder to vote on 3 May.
Commenting on the national roadshow, Andy O’Neill, Head of the Electoral Commission’s Scotland office, said: “Politics affects communities the length and breadth of Scotland which is why we are taking the VoteScotland campaign on the road, visiting every council area at least once in the lead up to the elections.
“We are particularly keen to get the message across to those people we know are less likely to be registered and vote such as students and certain minority ethnic groups although we would urge everyone living in the areas we are visiting to come along and find out all they need to know about the May elections.”
Welcoming the roadshow to Skye was Donald MacDonald, 18, a student at the college. He said: "I think it's great that the roadshow is being launched in Skye. I will be voting for the first time on 3 May and I think events like this are good way for people to make sure they know what they're doing before they go to the polling station.
"I think it's important for young people to vote because the issues that matter to young people and our priorities are probably quite different to other age groups and voting is a way for us to make sure we have a say."
The roadshow tour forms part of a Scotland-wide advertising campaign using TV, radio, newspaper and outdoor adverts to link the elections with everyday issues such as education and transport and to remind people that whatever matters to them, their vote counts.
A key aim of the VoteScotland campaign is to inform people about the two voting systems being used in the elections on 3 May.
For the Council elections, voters will rank candidates in order of preference using numbers – the single transferable vote system (STV). For Scottish Parliamentary elections, voters will use an X to mark choices for constituency and region.
To find out more, call the free VoteScotland Helpline on 0800 0141 012 or visit: www.votescotland.com
1) The VoteScotland roadshow will make 58 stops over the next five weeks, visiting town and city centres, colleges and universities and community groups.
2) On 3 May 2007 there will be two elections in Scotland; one to elect MSPs to the Scottish Parliament, the other to elect councillors for Scotland’s 32 councils.
3) Since last year, the VoteScotland campaign has involved working with community groups, organisations, small and medium sized enterprises, companies and charities across Scotland to inform people about how to register and explain how the different voting systems work.
4) People can check whether they are registered to vote by contacting their local electoral registration office. Forms are also available at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk
5) To receive a text reminder to vote on 3 May, enter the keyword “VOTER” into a text message and send to 61611 (costs at standard network rates).
6) A dot mobile website where voters can access information about the elections on their mobile phones has been launched – www.votescotland.mobi This is the first time a WAP site has been used for an election campaign in the UK
Single Transferable Vote (STV) for local government elections:
A form of proportional representation (PR), STV asks voters to rank listed candidates in order of preference (1, 2, 3, 4 and so on). You can vote for as few or as many candidates as you choose. With STV, if the voter’s first choice of candidate does not require their vote – having already secured enough votes to be elected – that vote moves (transfers) to the voter’s second choice, and so it continues until the required number of candidates are elected.
Additional Member System (AMS) for the Scottish Parliament elections
Under the AMS system, voters have two votes for the Scottish Parliament election – the first to choose a constituency MSP, the second to elect seven regional members from a list of political parties or individual candidates. AMS is a proportional system combining the election of constituency candidates with a vote for a preferred party or individual candidate.