The Count

Counting arrangements:
All ballot boxes are taken to a central counting place for each local authority. Agents of the candidates are permitted to attend at the counting place to oversee the counting process. Before the counting of votes begins, the envelopes containing the postal and special voters' ballot papers are opened in the presence of the agents of the candidates and the ballot papers are associated with the other ballot papers for the local authority. The count commences at 9.00 am on the day after polling day. Each ballot box is opened and the number of ballot papers checked against a return furnished by each presiding officer.
As European parliament elections are usually run alongside local elections, the first step is to separate the European parliament votes from the Local authority votes. The European votes are dispatched to the appropriate Count Centre.
The Local Authority ballot papers are then thoroughly mixed and sorted according to the first preferences recorded for each candidate, invalid papers being rejected.

The quota is the minimum number of votes necessary to guarantee the election of a candidate. It is ascertained by dividing the total number of valid ballot papers by one more than the number of seats to be filled and adding one to the result. Thus, if there were 40,000 valid papers and 4 seats to be filled, the quota would be 8,001, i.e. +1. It will be seen that in this example only four candidates (the number to be elected) could possibly reach the quota.

Transfer of Surplus:
At the end of the first count any candidate who has received a number of votes equal to or greater than the quota is deemed to be elected. If a candidate receives more than the quota, the surplus votes are transferred proportionately to the remaining candidates in the following way. If the candidate's votes are all first preference votes, all his or her ballot papers are sorted into separate parcels according to the next preference shown on them. A separate parcel is made of the non-transferable papers (papers on which an effective subsequent preference is not shown). If the surplus is equal to or greater than the number of transferable votes, each remaining candidate will receive all the votes from the appropriate parcel of transferable papers. If the surplus is less than the number of transferable papers each remaining candidate will receive from the appropriate parcel of transferable papers a number of votes calculated as follows:

Surplus x number of papers in parcel Total number of transferable papers:
If the surplus arises out of transferred papers, only the papers in the parcel last transferred to that candidate are examined and this parcel is then treated in the same way as a surplus consisting of first preference votes. If two or more candidates exceed the quota, the larger surplus is distributed first.

Elimination of Candidate:
If no candidate has a surplus or the surplus is insufficient to elect one of the remaining candidates or materially affect the progress of the count, the lowest of the remaining candidates is eliminated and his or her papers are transferred to remaining candidates according to the next preference indicated on them. If a ballot paper is to be transferred and the second preference shown on it is for a candidate already elected or eliminated, the vote passes to the third choice and so on.

Completion of Counting:
Counting continues until all the seats have been filled. If the number of seats left to be filled is equal to the number of candidates still in the running, those remaining candidates are declared elected without having reached the quota.

A returning officer may recount all or any of the papers at any stage of a count. A candidate or the election agent of a candidate is entitled to ask for a recount of the papers dealt with at a particular count or to ask for one complete recount of all the parcels of ballot papers. When recounting, the order of the papers must not be disturbed. When a significant error is discovered, the papers must be counted afresh from the point at which the error occurred.