Returning Officer Alistair Dodds (centre) is eager that voters use numbers and not a cross on their ballot papers at the forthcoming Council elections on 3 May. He is pictured with Andy O’Neill, lead officer in Scotland with the Electoral Commission, who is travelling around Scotland to help people know how to vote at the elections.
Also in the picture are young and old voters, Stuart Davidson, Highland Youth Convener, Mrs Cairine MacDonald, Inverness, and Mr Raymond Smart, Alness, who is visually impaired.
Voters taking part in the forthcoming Highland Council elections on Thursday 3 May are reminded that in filling in their ballot papers they should use numbers against the name of candidates in order of choice, using 1, 2, 3 and so on – and not a cross.
Voters can make as many or as few choices as they wish. They don’t have to number every candidate. As long as the voter numbers at least one candidate, their vote will be counted. If a voter makes a mistake on their ballot paper, they can ask for a new one.
Voters are therefore invited to put the number 1 in the voting box next to their first choice; a 2 in the voting box beside their second choice; a 3 in the voting box next to their third choice and so on.
Most people vote in person at their polling station. There are 271 polling stations in the Highlands. Polling stations are open between 7 am and 10 pm on Thursday 3 May.
Voters can also vote by post. When the deadline for postal vote applications passed on Wednesday, 18 April, 27,273 people had registered to vote in this way. Ballot papers will be sent to voters who have chosen to vote by post on Monday 23 April. Postal votes should be returned in the enclosed stamped addressed envelope by 3 May. They can also be handed in to any polling station up until 10 pm on 3 May.
Voters should have received a poll card by post telling them where their polling station is.
If voters have not received a poll card they should contact the Council’s Election Helpline on 01349 886657.
The count of all votes cast in the 22 Council wards will take place at Inverness Leisure, Bught Lane, Inverness, on Friday 4 May.
The Highland electorate is 176,226.
The system being used to count the votes is the Single Transferable Vote. The ballot paper lists the name of each candidate. To be elected a candidate must reach a set amount of votes known as the quota. The votes are counted in stages. In the first stage, only first preferences are counted. Anyone who reaches the quota is elected. Any votes received over the quota are not needed by the elected candidate and so are transferred to the second preference. If not enough candidates have reached the quota, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and all of their votes are passed to the next preference on the ballot papers. This process is repeated until three or four candidates have been elected.
A total of 170 candidates are seeking election to the 80 seats on The Highland Council. There are 14 four-member wards and 8 three-member wards.