MEMBERS of the public across East Lothian will be using the single transferable vote (STV) system when they go to the polls on Thursday, May 4, to vote in the East Lothian Council elections.

This is an entirely different from the traditional First Past the Post system used at General Elections and to elect constituency MSPs to the Scottish Parliament.

The STV system aims to produce proportional representation, while at the same time giving voters more choice over who their elected representative will be.

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council explained how the system works.

She said: “For this election, you do not use a single ‘X’ on the ballot paper [like at Westminster and Holyrood elections].

“When you cast your vote, you list the candidates in order of preference, starting with ‘1’ for your first choice, ‘2’ for your second and so on until you no longer wish to express a preference.

“If the candidate who is your first choice does not have enough support to be elected and is therefore eliminated then your vote is transferred to your second preference.

“Again, if this candidate did not have enough support, the same transfer would take place to your third preference (and so on).

“If the candidate who is your first choice has more than enough support and is elected with surplus to the quota needed to be elected, then surplus votes are again transferred to the second preference.”

There are currently 23 councillors on East Lothian Council but, due to boundary changes, this number will drop to 22 after the election - voted on in six different wards (down from seven at the last election).

The six wards are as follows:

  • Musselburgh (4 councillors elected)
  • Preston, Seton, Gosford (4 councillors elected)
  • Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry (4 councillors elected)
  • North Berwick Coastal (3 councillors elected)
  • Haddington and Lammermuir (4 councillors elected)
  • Dunbar and East Linton (3 councillors elected)

The boundary changes have resulted in the old Musselburgh West and Musselburgh East and Carberry wards being combined into a single Musselburgh ward, which will be represented by 4 councillors, rather than the 6 over two wards previously.

Wallyford and Whitecraig, which were both part of Musselburgh East and Carberry, have now moved to the old Fa'side ward, which is now called Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry - in addition to Wallyford and Whitecraig, it contains Tranent, Macmerry and Elphinstone.

However, it does not now contain Ormiston and Pencaitland, which were traditionally part of the Fa'side ward but have now moved to the Haddington and Lammermuir ward, which will now be represented by 4 councillors rather than the previous 3. Other communities in the ward include Haddington, Athelstaneford, Bolton, East Saltoun, Garvald, Gifford, Humbie and Morham.

The other three wards - Preston, Seton, Gosford; North Berwick Coastal; and Dunbar and East Linton - all have the same boundaries as at the last council elections in 2012.

Preston, Seton, Gosford includes Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton, and Longniddry.

North Berwick Coastal includes North Berwick, Aberlady, Gullane, Dirleton, Fenton Barns and Whitekirk.

Dunbar and East Linton includes Dunbar, East Linton, Innerwick, Oldhamstocks, Spott, Stenton, Tyninghame, West Barns and Whittingehame.

At the last East Lothian Council election in 2012, Labour ended up as the largest party with 10 councillors, one ahead of the SNP on nine (now down to eight, as one has become an independent). Also elected were three Conservatives and one independent, who formed a coalition with Labour to serve as the East Lothian Council administration.

This is the first local authority election in which 16 and 17 year olds are eligible to vote.