Turnout, information and heuristics in the Scottish Health Board elections: 'getting a CV with no job description'

Iain Wilson, Scott L. Greer, Ellen Stewart, Peter Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


British public services have traditionally been overseen by appointees. The idea that many of these posts should be filled by direct election, as a means of increasing engagement with local communities and accountability to them, appears to be gaining traction. In Health Board election pilots in 2010, the Scottish government replaced appointees to regional Health Boards (serving six-figure populations) with popularly elected members. The government attempted to maintain the insulation of Health Boards from party politics by restricting the use of partisan labels. Voters were deprived of a heuristic that usually helps them to decide how to cast their votes. Many electors did not vote, while others sought alternative heuristics. Interviewees simultaneously decried partisan politics, lack of information and low turnout by the rest of the population. These dislikes seem to conflict with each other. Moreover, the experience shows how the heuristics available to voters can shape democratic governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-469
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Health boards
  • Heuristics
  • Information
  • Scotland
  • Voting


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