Scottish Elections 2021: When and how do I vote?

  • Ian Payne explains the process of voting in the Scottish Election 2021.

On May 6th people in Scotland will be having their say on who they want to run the country. But unlike in the UK-wide general elections - in Scotland, every person gets two votes!

Scottish parliament elections can be confusing, so we have broken down the process on when and how to vote.

How does the system work?

When you arrive at the polling station you will be given two ballot papers - one purple and one peach. That's one for each vote. 

The purple paper allows you to vote for a candidate to represent your local area. You put a cross in the box you want, and the winner is the person with the most votes. They will then become your constituency MSP.

Seventy three of them from around the county then go to the Scottish Parliament.

But the peach paper is a bit different. You won't be voting for a person - but rather a political party to represent the entire region. In our case all of southern Scotland. 

There are seven spaces to fill and each party has a preferential list of candidates. 

Once everyone has cast one vote for their chosen party, the votes are then put through a mathematical equation. It determines which parties get to fill the seven spaces and how many additional MSP they get.  

If party A gets three MSPs then the first three candidates on their list are elected to represent the region. 

It's called the additional member system and it's designed to give a more proportional outcome.  

If you've not voted already by post, polling stations will be open on the 6th of May from 7am until 10 pm.