Home World Europe Scottish election 2021: Voting to begin in Scottish Parliament election

Scottish election 2021: Voting to begin in Scottish Parliament election
Scottish election 2021: Voting to begin in Scottish Parliament election avatar

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Voting is to start in the Scottish Parliament election, with polling stations opening at 07:00 on Thursday and closing again at 22:00.

A record number of voters have already cast their ballots – with more than a million people having registered to vote by post.

Votes will not be counted overnight after the election because of Covid.

Instead, counting will start on Friday morning, with the final result expected on Saturday.

The election is seen as being crucial to the future of the UK as the result could impact on whether or not there is a second referendum on Scottish independence.

But it will also decide who forms the next Scottish government, which has considerable powers over areas such as health, education and income tax.


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The pandemic means polling stations will feel different to normal – with voters being expected to wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser when they arrive.

The Electoral Commission has also recommended that voters bring their own pen or pencil to fill out their ballot papers – although clean pencils will also be available for use.

Physical distancing measures will be in place and there may be a one-way system in operation, depending on your polling place.

The Electoral Commission has also warned voters that they may have to queue to enter the building as there will be a limit on the number of voters allowed inside at any one time.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 or who is in self-isolation will be able to apply for a proxy vote up until 17:00 on polling day.

How do I vote in the election?

Anyone who lives in Scotland and is registered to vote is eligible, so long as they are aged 16 or over on the day of the election and have not been legally excluded from voting (for example because they are serving a prison sentence of longer than 12 months).

People have two votes – one for a constituency MSP, and another for a regional ballot.

There are 73 Constituency MSPs, each elected on a first-past-the-post system similar to the UK general election – the winner is the candidate who receives the most votes in each constituency.

In the regional ballot, people vote for a party. The parties are then allocated a number of MSPs depending on how many votes they receive – once the number of constituencies already won in that region is taken into account – to make the overall result more proportional.

There are eight electoral regions, each with seven regional MSPs.

This means that people in Scotland are each represented by eight MSPs – one representing their constituency and the other seven representing their region.

The Scottish government is formed from the party that hold the most seats in the parliament, or alternatively a coalition of more than one party.

A modern browser with JavaScript and a stable internet connection is required to view this interactive. More information about these elections

Who can I vote for in my area?

Enter your postcode, or the name of your English council or Scottish or Welsh constituency to find out. Eg 'W1A 1AA' or 'Westminster'

A really simple guide to the 2021 elections Note: This lookup covers national elections in Scotland and Wales, the Hartlepool by-election, as well as council and mayoral elections in England and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections in England and Wales. There may be parish council elections or council by-elections where you are. Check your local council website for full details. Last updated: May 5, 2021, 14:56 GMT

Other elections are also taking place across the UK on Thursday, including to the Welsh Parliament.

There are also elections for seats on 143 English councils and 13 local mayors, as well as a by-election for the Westminster seat of Hartlepool in the north east of England.

About 48 million people across Great Britain will be able to take part in the elections – many of them postponed from last year because of the pandemic.


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