Voters taking part in the forthcoming Highland Council elections on Thursday 4 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.

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.

Voters can make as many or as few choices as they wish putting the number 1 in the box next to their first choice; a 2 in the box beside their second choice; a 3 in the box next to their third choice and so on. They don’t have to number every candidate.  As long as the voter numbers at least one candidate, their vote will be counted.

The 267 polling stations across the Highlands will be open between 7am and 10pm on Thursday 4 May. Voters should have received a poll card by post telling them where their polling station is. If anyone have not received a poll card they should contact the Council’s Election Helpline on 01349 886657.

Of the 183,974 people registered to vote in Highland, 36,100 have requested a postal vote. Anyone opting to vote by post is reminded that their ballot should be returned in the enclosed stamped addressed envelope by Wednesday 3 May. Postal votes can also be handed in to any polling station up until 10 pm on Thursday 4 May.

A total of 165 candidates are seeking election to the 74 seats on The Highland Council. There are 11 four-member wards and 10 three-member wards.

The electronic count of all votes cast in the 21 council wards will take place at Inverness Leisure, Bught Lane, Inverness, on Friday 5 May.

The results will appear on the Council’s website www.highland.gov.uk (external link) and you can also follow the action via the Council’s twitter feed @HighlandCouncil