What is STV?

All Students’ Union elections are held using the Single Transferable Vote (STV). It is a system of preferential voting designed to minimise “wasted” votes and provide proportional representation (PR). Here is our guide to the system...using burgers and sandwiches to explain it a little bit better.

(Honestly this is the best way)

How does it work?

Let us imagine your mate is nipping to the SU Shop for lunch and offers to bring you back something. You reply that a sandwich and crips would be ideal; your first preference. If they are sold out, a cheeseburger and chips second preerence. If those are sold out, you will have anything, and you have not got any preferences. STV works in a very similar fashion.

When voting opens, you will have the option to pick your first-choice candidate for each full-time and part-time officer position. In a plurality voting system, where most votes win, this is how it would work, but not in STV.

After picking your first-choice candidates (sandwich and crisps), you can additionally choose to allocate your second choice to another candidate (cheeseburger and chips). This is who you, the voter, would like to see in the role, should your first-choice candidate is unsuccessful in gaining enough support with the rest of the student population.

In addition, every position in the election also has an extra candidate which the Union add called Re-Open Nominations (RON). It is a way of telling us that you feel that candidates ranked below RON are not suitable for the role or deserving of your vote.

After voting closes, the first-choice allocations are totalled into one sum. If a candidate does not already hold a majority, over 50%, of the total number of first choice of votes, the candidate with the fewest choice votes is eliminated. Don’t worry, your votes still count!

The eliminated candidate’s votes are then transferred to the second round of round of voting. If your first choice is eliminated by this stage, your vote is then transferred to your second choice.

The process continues, until a winner for that position is confirmed.

As great as it sounds, the voting system has its flaws. One being that the voting system can be prone to what has been termed ‘donkey voting’, where voters randomly vote for candidates in the order they appear on the ballot.