Voter Reactions to a Preferential Ballot: The 2007 Scottish Local Elections

David Denver, Alistair Clark, Lynn Bennie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Single Transferable Vote (STV) has featured prominently in debates on electoral reform in Britain but until now there has been little hard evidence on how British voters might react to this electoral system. This has changed with the introduction of STV for the 2007 Scottish local government elections, which represented the first use of the system in a public election in mainland Britain in living memory. Election data collected from Scottish councils are used to examine how voters responded. After providing an overview of the elections, four issues are considered – rejected ballots, preference usage, the patterns of transfers and ballot position effects. Two main themes emerge from the analysis: voters had little difficulty in understanding and engaging with STV and in their use of lower preferences party loyalties remained important.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-282
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Issue number3
Early online date18 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


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