AS Scotland heads to the polls today it is important to understand how both of your votes are counted.

Every voter has two votes to elect candidates to the Scottish Parliament – the constituency vote and the regional list vote.

The constituency vote takes the form of a lilac coloured ballot and is where you vote for individual politicians to represent your constituency. There are 73 constituencies in Scotland.

The constituency vote is run on a first past the post system, which means whichever candidate wins the most votes in that constituency is elected to represent it in parliament. This system is used in General Elections for Westminster.

The regional list vote will take the form of a peach coloured ballot and is more complicated to understand how your vote will count.

How many regions are there in Scotland?

There are eight regions in Scotland that each return seven MSPs. This means there are a total of 56 list MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

The regions are:

Central Scotland
Highlands and Islands
Mid Scotland and Fife
North East Scotland
South Scotland
West Scotland

Each region has between eight and 10 constituencies within it. Regardless of which constituency you are in, your peach ballot goes into the regional list vote pool.

Each party will also have a ranked list of candidates for each region so as well as looking at who your constituency candidates are, it's also a good idea to look at who is on your chosen party's regional list. 

What is the d'Hondt method and how does it work at this election?

The d'Hondt system of voting is a form of proportional representation that aims to ensure all voters are represented fairly.

The system is named after Belgian mathematician Victor d'Hondt who first described the methodology in 1882.

First, all the peach ballots for the region are counted and the total number of ballots is divided by the number of seats each party has already won from that region's constituencies plus one.

So, let’s say Party A wins all nine constituencies in Glasgow and also get 100,000 peach ballots in that region.

Their total number of peach ballots is then divided by the number of seats already won (nine) plus one. 100,000 peach votes divided by 10 = 10,000 votes.

Let’s say Party B and Party C have won 80,000 and 60,000 peach ballots from Glasgow respectively. As Party A have won every constituency seat, they are both currently on zero.

As such, we need to divide their total number of votes by their seats won (zero) plus one. So, 80,000 divided by one = 80,000, and 60,000 divided by one = 60,000.

As Party B have the most votes of these three parties, they would win a list seat. The candidate elected would be taken from the top of the Party B list for this region.

Now, the process is repeated. However, this time Party B have one seat.

So, Party A's vote remains the same (100,000 divided by 10 = 10,000). Party C also remains the same (60,000 divided by one = 60,000), but Party B's has changed.

Their one seat means that their 80,000 list votes are now divided by one seat plus one. So, 80,000 divided by two = 40,000.

Party C now have the most votes (60,000), so they win a list seat. 

Party C's vote would then drop to 30,000 and the process is repeated five more times to complete the seven regional members elected to the Scottish Parliament.

Along with the winners from each constituency, this means that each Scot is represented by eight MSPs.