Home Exeter Sabbatical Elections 2014 Guild Elections: Single Transferable Vote Explained

Guild Elections: Single Transferable Vote Explained


This year’s Guild Elections will be decided using the Single Transferable Vote, or STV.

Image Credit: University of Exeter
Image Credit: University of Exeter

STV is a form of proportional representation. It uses ranked voting to ensure every vote counts.

The electorate selects candidates by numbering them in order of preference, essentially like a list.

With STV, each voter has the option of ranking their preferences for the election. If you choose to put a second/third/fourth/fifth/sixth/etc preference down, it means that if your preferred candidate is knocked out, your vote is transferred to your next preferred candidate. If your second choice candidate is knocked out, your vote is then transferred to your third choice candidate – and so on – until just two candidates are left. In the final round, the election comes down to who has most votes of all types.

Of course, you don’t have to put multiple preferences down; but STV gives you the choice of doing so if you prefer.

STV has been promoted by the National Union of Students (NUS) as their preferred method of voting for student union elections. The format is known for putting power in the hands of the voters, since votes are not wasted unnecessarily – unlike with First Past the Post, every voter can feel as if they have contributed to the outcome, due to the use of preferences.

This leads to more voters being able to identify with the eventual winner, and indeed arguably improves the chosen representative’s accountability.

Secondly, the fact that candidates are ranked in order of preference means that those wishing to be elected are seeking both first and lower preference votes, inherently reducing the effectiveness and chance of negative campaigning.

Owen Keating, News Editor

Editorial Note: Many thanks from those in the Guild who helped clarify and simplify this guide.

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