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34.4 per cent turnout at Tain and Easter Ross Highland Council by-election as vote count continues

By Hector MacKenzie

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COUNTING is under way in a Highland Council by-election that was triggered by the resignation of a Ross-shire councillor.

Voting in the Tain and Easter Ross by-election took place yesterday.

Seven candidates threw their hats in the ring to represent locals in the three-councillor ward.

Turnout for the contest has been confirmed by Highland Council as 34.4 per cent with 2488 ballot papers verified from an electorate put at 7226.

Scanning of ballot papers is under way at Tain Royal Academy.

Alison Davidson from the Electoral Commission is in attendance at the count along with council convener, Bill Lobban.

Pupils from Tain Royal Academy were thanked by Highland Council returning officer Kate Lackie and chief executive Derek Brown for helping to open the ballot boxes.

Candidates standing were:

ALLISON, Gordon - Scottish National Party (SNP)

BARNETT, Andrew - Scottish Green Party

CHRISTIAN, Harry - Scottish Libertarian Party

MORRISON, Veronica - Scottish Conservative and Unionist

PERERA, Michael - Scottish Labour Party

ROSS, Maureen - Independent

STEPHEN, Charles - Scottish Liberal Democrats

The successful candidate will join fellow ward members, Councillors Derek Louden (Scottish National Party) and Alasdair Rhind (Highland Independent).

A result is expected later today.

How the voting system works

The system of voting for local government elections is the Single Transferable Vote (STV). Voters need to mark their choice of candidates in numerical order, using 1, 2, 3 and so on.

Voters can make as many or as few choices as they wish putting the number 1 in the voting box next to their first choice; a 2 in the voting box beside their second choice; a 3 in the voting box next to their third choice and so on.

The ballot paper lists the names of each of the candidates standing in the ward. Under this STV voting system, to be elected, a candidate must reach a set amount of votes known as the quota. The votes are counted in stages. In the first stage, only the first preferences are counted. Anyone who reaches the quota is elected. Any votes received over the quota are not needed by the elected candidate and so are transferred to the second preference. If sufficient candidates have reached the quota, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and all of their votes are passed to the next preference on the ballot papers.

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