Making the most of your vote

Making the most of your vote


What is STV?

Single Transferable Vote (or 'STV') is a voting system used by a number of different organisations including the Church of England.

STV is a form of proportional representation that can be used in cases where a number of candidates are to be elected in a particular area and allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

Candidates don't need a majority of votes to be elected, just a known share (the 'quota') of the votes, which is determined by the size of the electorate and the number of positions to be filled.


What's the benefit of STV?

As with the more traditional 'First Past the Post' system (or 'FPP'), you get one vote. But unlike FPP,  STV provides a mechanism that means that your vote is not wasted if your preferred candidate isn't elected.


How does STV work?

Under STV, you are asked to rank candidates in order of preference.

To do this, you give each candidate a numerical ranking (starting at '1' for your first preference, '2' for your second preference and continuing until there are no more candidates or until you can no longer express a meaningful order of preference).

You get one vote, but it can be transferred from your first preference to your second preference (and so on), so that if your preferred candidate has no chance of being elected or has enough votes already (because they have reached the 'quota'), your vote is transferred to the next candidate in order of your list of preferences.

In this way, STV ensures that very few votes are 'wasted', unlike in other systems, especially FPP, where only a small number of votes actually contribute to the result.


How do I make the best of my Single Transferable Vote?

To make the best of your Single Transferable Vote, you really need to rank as many of the candidates as you can in order of preference. The more candidates you can rank, the more chance you have of being represented as you want to be.

Remember, STV is a system of voting that is used in cases where a number of candidates are to be elected in a particular area. So, if, for example, your diocese can elect 4 representatives, you should at the very least rank 4 candidates in order of preference. But if there are 7 candidates in all (from whom 4 are to be elected), you'd be better advised to rank all 7!


Your vote is not worth more if you only vote for one candidate, so you have nothing to lose - and everything to gain - by spreading your options! If you only vote for one candidate and he or she doesn't attract sufficient support from others to be elected, your vote cannot be transferred and you have, in effect, wasted your vote.

So, vote for as many candidates as you can!