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How to vote in the Council elections

Ballot papers are sent by our election scrutineer, Electoral Reform Services (ERS), to members' registered addresses.

You can vote in one of two ways:

  • complete the ballot paper, sign it and return it to ERS in the reply-paid envelope, or
  • use the two-part PIN to register to vote electronically on the ERS Law Society elections webpage

How to complete the ballot paper

The ballot paper lists the names of the candidates for each contested seat.

Where there are only two candidates for one seat, put an X against the name of your preferred candidate.

Where there are more than two candidates, put a '1' next to the name of your preferred candidate, followed by a '2' next to the name of your second preferred candidate and so on. You don’t need to vote for all of the candidates, you can stop allocating preferences when you cannot decide between the remaining candidates.

How votes are counted

The counting process used by ERS varies depending on how many seats there are to be filled.

If the number of votes for any one candidate equals or exceeds the number of votes for all the other candidates combined, that candidate will be elected. If it doesn’t, then the candidates with the fewest votes are excluded and their votes transferred to the next available preferences.

This process continues until the number of votes for one candidate equals or exceeds the number of votes for all the others, and that candidate is elected.

Where there is more than one seat to be filled, the number of votes which candidates need in order to be elected (the quota) is calculated by counting the number of valid ballot papers and dividing the total by the number of people to be elected, plus one. For example, with 100 valid ballot papers and three places to be filled, the quota would be 25.

Ballot papers are sorted according to their first preference. If any candidate has more first preference votes than the quota, they are immediately elected.

The next stage is to transfer any surplus votes for these elected candidates - that is, the difference between their vote and the quota needed to be elected. To avoid having to decide which of the votes are surplus, all ballot papers are transferred but at a reduced value so that the total adds up to the number of surplus votes.

We don't necessarily transfer all the surplus votes immediately; it depends on the number of votes. If the total surplus available is big enough to change the order of the last placed candidate, then we start to transfer them. If it isn't, then the last placed candidate is excluded and their votes are transferred.

If you have any questions or need more information, please email

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