I received another question the other day about the STV voting system for the local elections, and once again it's probably worth answering it in a public post in case anyone else has the same doubt in their mind.
"In my council ward in the Western Isles I have 6 candidates, one of whom is SNP and the remainder (supposedly) independent.
I intend to put my 1 for the SNP candidate.
Of the remainder there is one eejit whom I can't see far enough, and to whom I would like to give a resounding 6.
The others, I neither know nor care about.
Is it allowable to just vote 1 and 6 with nothing in between?"
The simple answer is "no". Although you don't have to give preferences to all of the candidates, any candidates you do give preferences to must be ranked in strict numerical order starting from 1. So if you give preferences to only two candidates, they must be ranked 1 and 2. By doing that in the example given above, you would be ranking the number 2 candidate ahead of the four candidates you have not ranked at all. The only way to rank the "eejit" bottom of the pile would be to give your top five preferences to the non-eejits. If you genuinely cannot find any way of choosing between four of the five non-eejits, your only option would be to rank them in random order.
You don't have to rank them if you don't want to - but bear in mind that if you don't, you're abstaining in certain circumstances and potentially helping the eejit to win. If you attempt to give only a first and sixth preference, the first preference will be counted but the sixth preference will be ignored (effectively as a spoilt ballot).