Elections and referendums
Last updated: 13 January 2020

Local council elections and by-elections

Council elections

When you vote in local council elections, you are voting for a Councillor. Each local council is split into areas, called 'wards'. There are usually 3 or 4 Councillors elected in each ward.

You must be aged 16 or over to vote in local council elections.


A by-election takes place when an elected person:

  • dies
  • resigns
  • is bankrupt
  • sentenced to prison for more than 12 months

By-elections can happen for MSPs, MPs, MEPs and Councillors.

You can vote in the same way as you would for an election - at a polling station, by post or by proxy.