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How Do We Elect MLAs?

There are different ways to choose your elected representatives in a democracy.

In Westminster elections, Voters put an X on the ballot paper, beside the name of one candidate they want to represent them. The candidate with the most Xs wins and becomes the Member of Parliament (MP) for that constituency. This system is called 'First Past the Post'. Political parties will only nominate one candidate in each constituency.

In elections to the Assembly, to local councils/City and District Councils and to the European Parliament, voters use numbers to rank candidates in order of preference: 1 for first choice, 2 for second choice and so on. Voters elect more than one candidate. In the Assembly elections, they elect five MLAs per constituency. This system is called Single Transferable Vote (STV).

Sounds complicated? Watch the video for a simple explanation…

To find out more about elections to the 4 levels of government affecting Northern Ireland, watch the following:

Introduction to Elections

Elections to the UK Parliament

Local Council Elections