Alternative Transferable Vote (ATV)

Your vote counts more than once!

Alternative Transferable Vote (ATV) is commonly used in many students’ unions for electing single positions. The difference between this system and the ‘first past the post’ system as used in the General Elections is that it allows the voter to express a preference for candidates in the order in which they would ‘like’ them by placing a 1, 2, 3 and so on next to the candidate of their choice in order of preference. The voter can express as few preferences as they wish, or they can rank all the candidates. It also means that your vote continues to count if your first preference is not elected.

Who should I vote for?

You should only ever vote for the candidates you think are most suitable for the role. The candidate who is ranked by students as the most popular will be elected in to office.

You can find out what candidates are promising to do if elected in their manifestos at Reading what candidates say they will or won’t do can help you make an informed choice between them and help you consider how to rank them when voting.

Candidates also campaign leading up to and during voting week. Candidates will be on campus during voting week to speak to students in passing and encourage votes. You can ask candidates about their campaigns and why you should vote for them. Some candidates may give out incentives, such as sweets, but there is no obligation to vote for anyone except the candidates you feel are most suitable for the roles advertised.

What if I don’t like the candidates?

There is always one other candidate – under this system you can express a preference for No Suitable Candidate. No Suitable Candidate is a valid candidate and will promise that the election will be re-run if it wins the election. This is used if you feel the candidates are not suitable for the job and, if you would like to see the nominations re-opened for others to stand in addition to the original candidates. However No Suitable Candidate shouldn’t be used and abused for the wrong reasons.

Where can I vote?

The Union’s voting platform is online and you can vote directly from your browser from where ever you are in the world.

Online voting login

When voting is open, you can vote online by logging in with your university computer account.

You need your University of Portsmouth computer account (institutional login) username and password to access the UPSU Elections platform either on or off campus. This is the same account you use to access library computers and other systems.

Forgot your password?
New students: Get your account details

How to vote in an election

In each ATV election you can rank the candidates to show your order of preference by entering a 1 in the box next to your favourite candidate*, 2 for your second favourite and so on. In the ‘first stage’ only the first preference votes are counted. If a candidate has 50% +1 of the votes at this stage, then they are deemed elected. If not, the candidate with the least number of first preference votes will be eliminated. If you have voted for a candidate who is eliminated then your second preference will be counted.

On subsequent counts, if your second choice candidate is then eliminated, then your third preference will be counted and so on. This continues until either a candidate or No Suitable Candidate get 50% +1 of the total votes.

If you want to know more about elections and how they work check out the Electoral Reform Society website:

*Candidate names are always accompanied by a No Suitable Candidate entry; if you feel that none of the candidates are suitable for the position, you should put No Suitable Candidate as your first choice.

Keep Elections Fair

The Student Elections are now run digitally. Through our data share agreement with the University, the Union requests a list of confirmed eligible students (as defined in the Union’s bye-laws) in advance of voting week in order to prepare the digital voting platform.

Votes can only be placed by an eligible student with a UoP computer account. This method ensures voters can only vote once in each election.

When ready to vote, students should access the voting platform without supervision or coercion from candidates or their campaign teams. Any attempts by other persons to inform your vote should be reported to

When you cast your vote, your student registration number is recorded by the electronic voting system. Your vote and identity remains anonymous throughout the process but elections officials can check individual votes if they suspect any foul play.

Students that may have attempted to subvert the election process by voting more than once (e.g. using others’ computer accounts) are subject to disciplinary action by the Union, and the University will also be informed.