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How Do We Elect MLAs?

There are different ways for people to choose their elected representatives in a democracy.

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

In elections to the Assembly, voters use numbers to rank candidates in order of preference: 1 for first choice, 2 for second choice and so on.  Voters elect five MLAs per constituency. This system is called Single Transferable Vote (STV). Although voters still only get one vote, that vote can contribute to the success of more than one candidate.

Sounds complicated? Watch the video for a simple explanation