single transferable vote
The single transferable vote (STV) is a voting system that allocates seats in a parliament or committee in proportion to the number of votes recorded. This is in contrast to the first-past-the-post system, which may result in political representation failing to reflect votes cast. Under STV voters indicate their support for individuals who they feel will best represent them, unlike in list systems where they must choose a political party. STV ballot papers include a list of the names of each candidate standing in the election. Voters are asked to place a number "1" next to their first choice candidate and a number "2" next to their second choice candidate, a number "3" next to their third choice and so on. At the first stage of the count each ballot paper is awarded to their first choice candidate and candidates with the required number of votes (called the quota) are elected. If a candidate has more votes than the required number of votes a proportion of these votes may be transferred after considering the preferences expressed by the voters. Candidates who receive very few votes are usually excluded and each of the votes is transfered according to the preferences expressed by the voter. In Northern Ireland STV is used for European and local elections as well as for elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly. STV is also used for local elections in Scotland.
contributed by user John Cross