Local Elections 2012: Scots Go To The Polls To Elect Councillors

Scots will go to the polls today to elect their local councillors.

A total of 1,223 seats on the country's 32 separate local authorities are up for grabs.

Polls open at 7am, with Scotland's four million voters having till 10pm to have their say, although as many as 550,000 people could have already voted by post.

But with the elections not taking place at the same time as the Holyrood vote - the first time this has happened since 1995 - turnout for the ballot could suffer.

Holding local government elections on their own was one of the decisions made in the wake of the 2007 election fiasco, in which more than 100,000 ballots were spoiled and problems with the electronic counting delayed results.

However, Local Government Minister Derek Mackay said the technology that will be used to count the votes has been thoroughly tested.

Counting of the votes is taking place tomorrow instead of the traditional overnight count, with electronic technology necessary because of the single transferable voting (STV) system used to elect councillors.

But Mr Mackay stressed: "The electronic counting system had been subjected to rigorous testing which should protect against the failures of the past."

Across Scotland a total of 2,490 people are standing for election and under the STV system of proportional representation, voters are asked to number the candidates in order of preference.

People in the Govan ward in Glasgow have 14 candidates to choose from, the highest of any ward in the country.

Voters in Dunoon will not go to the polls until next Thursday, May 10, because the election there was postponed due to the death of a candidate.

While Scotland's political leaders have been campaigning to win over voters, people have also been urged to bear in mind councils' key responsibilities, such as housing and education, when deciding who to support.

Graeme Brown, director of the housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, said: "We are urging people to vote on real bread-and-butter issues like the acute shortage of social housing and want voters to call on candidates to make tackling the housing shortage one of their priorities."

Meanwhile, Alan Munro, president of the EIS teaching union, said: "It is vital that voters turn out and support candidates who have made a clear commitment to supporting education in their local areas."