Voter turnout Scotland: How many people have voted in each of the Scottish Parliament elections

One day from the Scottish Election, we take a look at voter turnout over the years.

The Scottish Election is tomorrow.

And more people are registered to vote on Thursday than in any other Scottish Parliament election on record.

It’s set to be a decisive election, with voters choosing which party should guide Scotland out of the coronavirus pandemic, and whether to support another independence referendum.

How many are expected to vote on Thursday?

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The final total of voters registered for the 2021 Scottish election is 4,280,785 people. It’s an impressive figure, considering the Scottish population is just over 5.4 million.

It’s around 182,000 more than signed up for the previous election in 2016.

And the latest figure is just over 3,000 shy of the record number who registered to vote in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

The count for the Scottish Parliament election in 2016 (SWNS)The count for the Scottish Parliament election in 2016 (SWNS)
The count for the Scottish Parliament election in 2016 (SWNS)

What was the turnout at previous Scottish elections?

Scotland has had five parliamentary elections since voting for devolution in 1997.

A referendum that year had a turnout of 60.1 per cent, with 74 per cent of those saying yes to devolved powers.

After that, the first ever Scottish Parliament Election happened on 6 May 1999, with 4,027,433 signing up to vote. There was a turnout of 58.4 per cent in the constituency vote and 58.3 in the regional vote.

Since then, registered voters fell to just under four million for the next three elections, rising each time before breaking past four million again in 2016.

In 2003, 3,877,460 people registered to vote, with a turnout of 49.4 per cent for both the regional and constituency votes.

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Then in 2007, the electorate rose to 3,899,472 people – with a turnout of 51,7 per cent for the constituency vote and 52.4 per cent for the regional.

The next Scottish Parliament election happened in May 2011, and the electorate rose again to 3,950,626. There was 50.5 per cent turnout for the constituency contests and 50.4 per cent for the list voting.

This was surpassed significantly in 2016, which saw 55.8 per cent and 55.9 per cent respectively.

This most recent election – which saw the SNP fall just short of a majority with 63 seats – had 4,099,907 people signed up to vote.

What has been the biggest voter turnout so far?

The Scottish independence referendum of 2014 had the highest turnout of any vote in the UK in more than a century.

It was at 84.6 per cent of the electorate of 4,283,392 registered voters. To compare, the UK-wide Brexit referendum in 2016 had a turnout of 72.2 per cent.

It’s thought the election on Thursday will come close to the Indyref figure.

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