Details of data format and sources

The web page here for each council gives a summary of results by ward and party, with links to the individual ward.

Each ward's page gives names of those elected, and full details of the vote counting process. This is presented both through a table giving the vote distribution at each stage, and through figures. The latter make it easy to follow the transfers of votes, with blocks of votes coloured according to the party of first preference.

Each ward's page also gives a link through which the full vote preference data file for the ward can be downloaded. This makes possible a wide variety of data analyses, including of voting patterns, and of the dependence of the results on the exact STV algorithm used: Scottish Council elections currently use the weighted inclusive Gregory (WIG) method. In this, a fixed quota sufficient to guarantee election is set. If any candidate reaches this quota the surplus proportion of their votes is transferred to other candidates still in contention according to their voters' next preferences. If after transfers of surpluses there are still seats to be filled, the candidate with least votes is excluded and all their votes transferred to their voters' next preferences. This continues until all seats are filled.

Example of a vote preference data file:

North West and Central Sutherland
8 3 1022 4904 2845
Malcolm BANGOR-JONES,Ind,0
Kirsteen CURRIE,SNP,1
Brendan O'HANRAHAN,Ind,0
Michael SIMPSON,Ind,0
William SINCLAIR,Lab,0
Russell TAYLOR,Con,0
35 1 0
1 8 7 6 5 4 3 1 2 0
The first two lines give the ward name, the number of candidates, number of seats, the number of lines of vote data that follow, the electorate and the total number of votes cast. There is then a line for each candidate, with party, and an indicators of whether elected (1) or not (0). There are then many, in this case 1022, vote data lines, indicating how many voters opted for each order of preference. The first and last of these lines are shown here, indicating that 35 voters gave first preference to Bangor-Jones with no further preference; and that just one voter gave preference order Taylor, Sinclair, Simpson, O'Hanrahan, Munro, Morrison, Bangor-Jones, Currie.

[The 0s at the end of each line and on the final line are just "end of data" indicators.]

The ward page for this example is Highland/North_West_and_Central_Sutherland/index.html

Data sources

The vote preference data files were copied from the versions officially published by the Returning Officers for each council. There are some variations in the way they have been presented on the 32 council web sites, and it is hoped that having them all in one place and in uniform format will make them more accessible to researchers and the public.

The versions here differ from official versions in two minor ways. First, to make them more user-friendly, the ward and candidate names have been moved from the end to the beginning of the file. Secondly, some information has been calculated - the number of vote data lines and the indicator of whether elected - or added from other official election reports, namely the electorate, total number of votes cast, and the party affiliation of each candidate.


The calculations use my own WIG program, following the exact official rules, in particular truncating transfer values to 5 places of decimals. Results should therefore agree exactly with the offical results. This has been checked for a sample of wards; but please let me know if you do find any discrepancies.

There is one difference in calculations that should be mentioned. The official results in certain cases include an extra stage transferring the votes of the last excluded candidate; this is omitted here as unnecessary, since the result is at that point already decided.

Any corrections or comments will be welcome; please send to:   denismollison (at)