National Records of Scotland

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Sharp rise in postal voters

Sharp rise in postal voters

Tuesday, 5 Apr 2022
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The number of people in Scotland registered to vote by post increased by 38% since December 2020, according to statistics published today by National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The figures show that for UK Parliament elections 23.1% are now registered to vote by post. A similar increase in registrations for postal ballots in Scottish Parliament and council elections puts that figure at 22.5% ahead of May’s vote.

Today’s figures also show:

77,600 young people aged 16 or 17 were registered to vote at Scottish Parliament and local government elections. This increase of 4,300 (5.9%) means young people now account for 1.8% of Scotland’s electorate. While 16 and 17 year olds can vote in the Scottish Parliament and Council elections, the minimum voting age for UK elections is still 18.

The number of registered voters for Scottish Parliament and local government elections was 4,245,200. This is an increase of 36,300 (0.9%) on the previous year.

The number of registered voters in Scotland for UK Parliamentary elections was 4,028,700. This is an increase of 16,300 (0.4%) on the previous year.

There were 172,100 foreign nationals registered to vote in Scottish Parliament and local government elections. This represented 4.1% of the total electorate. This is an increase of 14,700 (9.4%) on the previous year.

Sandy Taylor, Head of Electoral Statistics said:

“In December 2021, nearly a million people in Scotland, around 23% of the electorate, were registered to vote by post.

“This 38% increase in postal voters over the last year is most likely driven by the COVID pandemic.”

The full publication “Electoral Statistics for Scotland, as at 1 December 2021” is available on the NRS website.


The corresponding electoral statistics for the whole of the UK is scheduled for publication by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 05 April 2022. That publication, which will include figures for Scotland supplied by NRS, will be available on the ONS website.

Resident EU and other foreign nationals (apart from citizens of the Republic of Ireland and qualifying Commonwealth citizens) do not have the right to vote in UK Parliament elections, but can vote in Scottish Parliament and Local Government Elections. The electoral franchise for these elections was extended, with effect from 1 April 2020,  from EU citizens to other qualifying foreign nationals resident in Scotland by the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Act 2020.

The data source used to produce electoral statistics holds limited information about voter age and no information about the sex of registered voters.

Media enquiries should be directed to:
Donna Green
NRS Communications
Tel: 07775 027 380
Email: [email protected]

Further information about the statistics is available from:
NRS Customer Services
Email: [email protected]