About the Single Transferable Vote


STV (Single Transferable Vote) is a voting system in which voters list the candidates in order of preference. If any candidate does not receive enough support to win a seat, that candidate's votes will be transferred to others according to voters' next preferences. If any candidate receives more than enough votes to be elected, the votes not needed will be transferred in a similar way. The result is a fairer and more effective voting system, in which there are far fewer wasted votes than under our current system for General Elections - first past the post.

It can be used to elect single representatives (when it is usually called AV, the Alternative Vote) and it ensures that those elected have at least half the votes. When used to elect only one representative, of course it cannot ensure proportional representation.

When used to elect more than one representative in multi-member constituencies, STV does provide proportional representation but, unlike other PR systems, it reflects views on all issues which the voters care about, not just political party support . STV is already being used in the United Kingdom - for all elections (except MPs) in Northern Ireland and for local elections in Scotland.

STV Action is campaigning for the use of STV in all public elections in the UK to give the people the voting system they deserve to elect representatives of their choice.

Some advantages of STV

  1. STV motivates political parties to contest every seat and there would be no area they could afford to ignore.
  2. STV elections cannot be won by influencing only a few swing voters in marginal seats.
  3. Under STV, MPs would be more accountable to voters.
  4. STV can give voters a choice of candidates within a party; e.g., pro and anti Europe or Old and New Labour.
  5. Because STV lets voters list as many as like they of the candidates in order of choice, they never need to waste their votes or vote tactically.

See the Electoral Reform Society Council Election Results Sheet to see how a real STV election works.

Click here for a copy of our Editor's oral evidence to the Commission on Voting Reform (Jenkins Commission) in 1998.

Frequently Asked Questions about Proportional Representation

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