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Election 2021: A guide for voters in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross on candidates and how to vote when Scotland goes to the polls on May 6

By Scott Maclennan

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Voters in Scotland will go to the polls on Thursday, May 6 to decide which party will lead the country for the next five years.

A total of 129 MSPs will be elected – 73 to represent individual constituencies through the first-past-the-post system and another 56 from eight regions, elected on a proportional basis.

The Highlands has three constituencies each electing one MSP:

  • Caithness, Sutherland and Ross
  • Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch
  • Inverness and Nairn

Then there is the wider Highlands and Islands electoral region encompassing the mainland Highlands, Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles, and Argyll & Bute where votes will be cast to elect a further seven list or regional MSPs.

First steps

You must be registered to vote by midnight on Monday, April 19 to be able to cast a ballot in this election.

Applications for postal voting are now closed but those wishing to vote by proxy – having someone place your vote on your behalf – can still apply up until April 27. There is also a process that would allow you to apply in case of an emergency for a proxy vote up until 5pm on the day of the vote.

You can register online at www.gov.uk/registertovote or call 08003 280 280 for more information.

Who can vote?

In 2020, the Scottish Parliament passed a new law that means all those aged 16 or over and resident in Scotland can now vote in Holyrood elections, as can some refugees and prisoners.

British citizens living overseas are not permitted to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary election.

So you can cast a ballot in this election if you are registered to vote in Scotland and will be 16 or over on May 6.

That includes people who are:

• a British or Irish citizen

• a Commonwealth citizen who has leave to remain in the UK, or does not require such leave

• a citizen of an EU country

• a qualifying foreign national who has permission to enter or remain in the UK, or who does not need such permission

• qualifying foreign nationals (those with permission to enter or remain in the UK or who do not need such permission)

• a refugee (but not those with a pending asylum application in Scotland)

• a prisoner who is serving a sentence of 12 months or less in a UK prison and would usually be resident in Scotland.

On Election Day

You will be sent a polling card letting you know the address of your polling station.

You do not need to take your polling card with you but often it can speed up the process for staff who need to search for your name and address.

Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm. They will be “safe places to vote during Covid-19” and will comply with Public Health Scotland guidance.

They will typically have similar social distancing and sanitation measures to those that have become familiar in other premises.

How to place your vote

Voters will be asked to vote for a constituency MSP and, separately, for a regional MSP or party.


So voters in the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross constituency will be presented with the following choices and should place an X next to the individual they wish to be their constituency MSP:

Christian, Harry - Scottish Libertarian Party

Donaldson, Marion - Scottish Labour Party

Mackie, Struan - Scottish Conservative And Unionist Party

McCaffery, Tina - Freedom Alliance-Integrity, Society, Economy

Nolan, Molly - Scottish Liberal Democrats

Todd, Maree - Scottish National Party (SNP)


For the regional list MSP there will be options for both parties and individuals. In total there are 15 parties and two independent candidates to choose from.

Those voting for a party will effectively be voting for the individual chosen by that party through its own selection processes. It would be well worth checking with the parties who their priority candidates are so an informed choice can be made. Often but not always parties will place candidates who are also standing for the constituency vote at the top of their place on the regional ballot. In the event that they do not win under the first-past-the post system a candidate may still then be elected as an MSP via the regional list.

For the list/ regional MSP slots the following parties and individuals are putting themselves forward for election:

Abolish The Scottish Parliament Party

Alba Party

All For Unity

Freedom Alliance – Integrity, Society, Economy

Independent - Mansfield, Hazel

Independent - Wightman, Andy

Reform Uk

Restore Scotland

Scottish Conservative And Unionist Party

Scottish Family Party

Scottish Green Party

Scottish Labour Party

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Libertarian Party

Scottish National Party (SNP)

Scottish Trade Unionist And Socialist Coalition

Uk Independence Party (UKIP)


Due to Covid measures in force at polling stations the count will not be conducted overnight as is normally done. It will start the next morning and the expectation is the results will begin to be known by Saturday afternoon at the earliest.

For more of our election coverage click here

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