WITH not much more than two weeks to go until the Kilwinning by-election, North Ayrshire Council has issued a complete guide to where, when and how voters in the town can choose their next local councillor.

The by-election is being held following the death in February of Conservative councillor John Glover. who had been one of the ward's councillors since 2017.

In alphabetical order by surname, which is how they'll appear on the ballot paper, the candidates, and the description supplied to the council of their parties, are: Ian Charles Gibson (Scottish Family Party - Putting Families First); Sheila Gibson (Scottish National Party (SNP)); Mary Hume (Scottish Labour Party); Ruby Kirkwood (Scottish Liberal Democrats); and Chris Lawler (Scottish Conservative and Unionist).

For those voting in person on the day, there will be six polling places, each of themopen from 7am to 10pm:

  • Cranberry Moss Community Centre, Cambusdoon Place;
  • The Dirrans Centre, Dirrans Terrace;
  • Mansefield Trinity Church, West Doura Way;
  • Nethermains Community Centre, Nethermains Road;
  • William Love Memorial Hall, Moncur Road; 
  • Woodwynd Hall, David Gage Street.

Postal votes will be sent out to people who have applied for one on Friday, April 26.

Voters returning a postal vote must ensure that the Postal Vote Statement accompanying their vote is filled out correctly, paying particular attention to the inclusion of their correct date of birth.

A signature identical to the one provided in their application must also be provided, although this is not required by postal voters who have a waiver.

The Kilwinning by-election will use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system where voters mark their preference in numerical order, rather than by means of an X as happens in General Elections.

Voters should mark a 1 next to their first choice, 2 next to their second, 3 next to their third and so on. There's no requirement to rank all the candidates, though you can, and many do.

The way the count itself is carried out is a bit complicated to explain, but the number of votes required to win - the 'quota' - depends on the number of valid ballot papers cast, with the quota being 50 per cent of those valid ballots, plus one vote.

if no candidate meets the quota in the first round of voting, the candidate with the smallest number of 'first choice' votes is eliminated, with their votes transferred to other candidates until one reaches the quota and is declared the winner.

As a recent Ayrshire example, a by-election in the South Ayrshire ward of Girvan and South Carrick in September 2023, which also had five candidates, reached a fourth round of counting before one candidate was declared the winner after reaching the quota of 1,386 votes (half the 2,770 valid ballot papers, plus one).

The count, which is carried out electronically for local elections, will be held on Friday, May 10, with the result expected to be announced the same day. Further details on the by-election can be found on the council website.