Today is the day when voters across Scotland and Orkney can go to the polls and choose who they wish to run their local services, the ones that most directly affect us. In Orkney large numbers have already voted using the postal system. All the islands apart from Mainland use this system and most people post off their vote almost as soon as it has dropped through their letterbox. The turnout is very high with postal voters. Those who have not yet posted theirs can still vote by handing it in to the Council Office up until 10pm tonight.
For those that still physically go into a polling booth there is much to choose from in candidates,however, only 2 are representing a main stream political party: The Scottish Greens. The Greens last stood in Orkney in 2015 in a local By-Election in the West Mainland where they got 9.9% of the vote with a turnout of 34%. They have a candidate standing there again.
Orkney also has 2 candidates representing the Orkney Manifesto Group who deal with local issues only. All other candidates in Orkney are ‘Independents’. This means no one actually knows the future direction Orkney will take. A recent survey of all candidates showed that amongst most there is a concern over the secrecy with which council decisions are taken and the influence unelected council officials have.
In Stromness and the South Isles no election is taking place as only 3 people put themselves forward so they are now councillors. Quite a surprising situation considering Stromness is Orkney’s 2nd town and a vital centre for renewables.
The count will take place on Friday morning in Kirkwall Town Hall and will be done electronically. The Single Transferable Vote system is easy for voters being just a case of numbering the candidates in order but it is more complicated to count. The transferring of votes should mean that we all end up with the candidates being elected that we least object to. The Orkney News will be at the count watching the process and interviewing winners and losers.
We wish all candidates the best and hope people do use the hard won right we have in this country to choose who represents us. EU Nationals and 16/17yr olds are also able to vote in this election a right denied them in the forthcoming General Election on June 8th.
A list of all the candidates can be found here 38 Candidates to Contest OIC Elections
Reporter: Fiona Grahame