Friday, April 1, 2022

STV for dummies

So no, this is not a reference to Scottish Television dumbing down even further, it's about the other STV, the Single Transferable Vote system which will be used to elect our local councillors in just over a month from now. Several people have asked me if I'll be writing another "idiot's guide" as I did in 2017, because STV has a reputation for being far more fiendishly complicated than just about any other electoral system.  However, that does it a disservice.  The real complexity is actually at the counting end of the system - as a voter, it should be relatively simple to use.  So here's my step-by-step guide to using STV, all the way from deciding your voting choices in advance of polling day, through to how to actually cast your ballot in the polling station.

1) STV is a preferential system, which allows you to rank as many of the candidates as you wish in order of preference - and if you want to maximise the impact of your vote, it's vital to rank as many of them as you can bear to (the "vote till you boak" principle).  That being the case, it's far more important than in other types of election to know how many candidates are standing in your ward, who they are, and what party - if any - they're standing for.  So find the name of your ward (which can often be the toughest part of the process!) and search online for the full list of candidates.

2) Look carefully to see whether each candidate is a Red Code or a Blue Code candidate.  Blue Code candidates are relatively rare these days, but it's important to identify them because the quotient that applies to them is different.

3) If a candidate is Blue Code, they are required by Electoral Commission rules to incorporate a QR code into their election literature.  So when they send you a leaflet, scan the code and it will take you to a website setting out the quotient.  Alternatively, you can search for it manually.

4) On polling day, take your polling card to a polling station and hand it to staff - either that or just tell them your name and address.  (Thankfully, the Tories don't control this election and there will be no ID requirement.) 

5) The staff will then give you a ballot slip.  It will be colour coded if there are both Red Code and Blue Code candidates in your ward.  If there are only Red Code candidates, it will be white.

6) Take your ballot paper to a booth, and start by applying the quotient to all Red Code candidates.

7) If there are Blue Code Candidates, apply the Blue Code quotient separately.  The colour coding should assist you here, but to ensure your preferences for Blue Code candidates are correctly counted, you must ensure that each quotient is applied accurately.

8) Indicate your insistence.

9) Fold the ballot paper and place it in the ballot box.

10) Leave the polling station.

11) As an extra precaution to ensure that no mistakes have been made, re-scan the QR code, and if the quotient has been correctly applied, you should be taken to a page displaying a green "W" and a magenta "7".  

12) Excise the coupon.

And that's it, you're done. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

I can no longer defend the Scottish Government's approach to Covid - we're all the way back to "let it rip" and "take it on the chin"