UK Electoral System

UK Electoral System

The House of Commons, devolved assemblies and mayors in the UK are elected using various voting systems. The Commons and the House of Lords also adapt various voting systems when it comes to casting a vote in internal elections.

Voting Systems are also termed as Electoral Systems, through which the election of Representatives takes place.These representatives belong to House of Commons, Scottish Parliament, and National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly, European Parliament and UK local Authorities.


For local elections in England and Wales, and also to elect MP’s to the House of Commons, First-past-the-post is used. This process includes division of different areas which are referred as Constituencies or Wards, where in any general or local election, voters have to just put a cross mark next to the name of their preferred candidate. The Ballot Paper voting is followed in the UK. After voting, the counting of Ballot paper takes place and whoever candidate has received maximum votes is elected to represent the constituency or the ward.

Alternative Vote (AV)

The Alternative Vote is used for the election of the Lord Speaker and by-elections for hereditary peers. Basically, Alternative Vote is used to elect the majority of chairs of select committees in the House of Commons. This method is used for voters who may mark their best preferential candidates by marking 1, 2, and 3 next to the names of the candidates on a Ballot paper. The voters are privileged to rank as many as or as few candidates as per their like or can even vote for a one candidate. Ballot papers are counted by first preference votes, where the candidate marked 1 receives more than 50% of the first preference gets elected. If no candidates reach to 50% threshold, then the recipient of fewest first preference votes gets eliminated. Reallocation of second preferred votes goes to other candidates.If after all this, one candidate has more votes than the other remaining candidates put together, that candidate gets elected.

Supplementary Vote (SV)

The Other elected Mayors in England and Wales and also the Mayor of London are elected through Supplementary vote system. The SV system is very much similar to the AV vote system; where the voter marks a cross sign next to the name of the most preferred candidate and another cross in second column for the second most preferred candidate. If no candidate reaches the 50% threshold, the other two candidates of highest number of votes are retained and rest gets eliminated. The second preference on Ballot paper of eliminated candidates are counted , where the candidate with most votes at the end is elected, if any cast for the two remaining are transferred.

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

The Single Transferable Vote system is used to elect the Deputy Speakers in the House of Commons, also used for electing the Northern Ireland Assembly, local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland and European Parliament elections in Northern India. In multi-member constituencies, voters rank their preferred candidate marking 1, 2, 3, in Ballot paper. Voters can rank many or vote for just one. The minimum votes required by each candidate are calculated by number of seats and votes cast which is called quota. The first preference of votes and any candidate who has achieved quota is elected. If the candidate has surplus votes required for quota, the extra votes are transferred to the remaining candidates. Votes that would have gone to the winner instead go to the second preference list on Ballot papers. If candidates do not meet quota, the one with fewest first preference votes is eliminated and the second preference votes are transferred to other candidates, till seats are filled transfer of votes happens.

Additional Member System (AMS)

Here voters are given two votes, one for the candidate and one for the party, which elects Scottish Parliament, The National Assembly for Wales and the London Assembly. Individual candidates are elected to single-member constituencies using first-past-the-post or second ballot or Alternative vote.

Closed Party List

The closed party list system is used to elect Members of the European Parliament, with the exception of Northern Ireland which uses Single Transferable Vote.


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