With the Single Transferable Vote, you get a Parliament where the strength of the parties matches the strength of their support in the country, and Members of Parliament (MPs) have a strong local link.
The Single Transferable Vote (STV) is a British form of proportional representation. Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Malta, Scotland and Australia use this system for some or all of their elections. In America, it is often referred to as ‘ranked choice voting in multi-member seats’, in Australia they call it ‘Hare-Clark’.
Rather than one person representing everyone in a small area, bigger areas elect a small team of representatives. These representatives reflect the diversity of opinions in the area.
On election day, voters number a list of candidates. Their favourite as number one, their second favourite number two, and so on. Voters can put numbers next to as many or as few candidates as they like. Parties will often stand more than one candidate in each area.
The numbers tell the people counting to move your vote if your favourite candidate has enough votes already or stands no chance of winning.
To get elected, a candidate needs a set amount of votes, known as the quota. The people counting the votes work out the quota based on the number of vacancies and the number of votes cast.
Each voter has one vote. Once the counting has finished, any candidate who has more number ones than the quota is elected. But, rather than ignore extra votes a candidate received after the amount they need to win, these votes move to each voter’s second favourite candidate.
If no one reaches the quota, then the people counting the vote remove the least popular candidate. People who voted for them have their votes moved to their second favourite candidate. This process continues until every vacancy is filled.
The Single Transferable Vote is an electoral system that puts the power in the hands of the public. Evidence from Scotland and Ireland suggests voters use it in quite sophisticated ways.
Voters can also choose between candidates from the same party or different parties. This means voters can elect all MPs based on their individual abilities.
Voters can also vote for independent candidates without worrying about wasting their vote. Ireland has many independent MPs as do some Scottish councils.
Constituencies are more natural, covering a whole town or a county. This creates a recognisable local link, and gives voters a choice of representatives to talk to.
How to conduct an election by the Single Transferable Vote
Rather than having 3 single member constituencies next to each other, you have one multi-member constituency that elects 3 MPs. To better fit the natural, administrative and locally recognised boundaries, some of the new multi-member constituencies elect 3 and some 4 MPS. Constituencies designed by Lewis Baston.