Report: How the 2017 Scottish local elections were run

About this report

On 4 May 2017, elections were held across Scotland’s 32 councils to elect 1227 councillors, an increase of 5 following boundary changes in 27 of the council areas. Three wards were uncontested at these elections in the local authorities of Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and Argyll & Bute.1

The elections saw 16 and 17 year olds voting at ordinary council elections for the first time and the introduction of the Access to Elected Office Fund Scotland to assist disabled candidates to compete on a level playing field. 

To inform our report on the council elections we sought the views and experience of voters, through public opinion research and electoral data provided by electoral administrators, as well as feedback about the administration of the election from candidates and agents, those responsible for delivering the poll, and other participants such as Royal Mail and Inclusion Scotland. 

Our report provides a summary of the issues that emerged at the elections and makes a number of recommendations to improve elections in the future. These recommendations need to be seen in the context of a wider electoral reform agenda which including proposals made by the Law Commissions of Scotland, England & Wales and Northern Ireland and the consultation on Scottish elections which the Scottish Government has indicated it will undertake via its Programme for Government.