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Elections in the United Kingdom
For electoral purposes the United Kingdom is divided into 659 constituencies (constituency - избирательный округ), each of which returns one member to the House of Commons. Constituencies vary in size and area; the average electorate is around 68,000. There are four permanent Parliamentary Boundary Commissions one each for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - that review constituency size to ensure that constituencies have broadly similar numbers of electors. British citizens, and citizens of other Commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland resident in the United Kingdom, may vote in parliamentary elections provided that they are aged 18 or over; included in the register of electors for the constituency; and not subject to any legal incapacity to vote. British citizens living abroad may apply to register as electors for a period of up to 15 years after they have left the United Kingdom.
Voting is not compulsory in the United Kingdom and the simple majority system (мажоритарная система) is used for Westminster elections; proportional representation is used in the elections to the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Each elector may cast one vote and usually does so in person at a polling station. Candidates are elected if they have more votes than any of the other candidates (although not necessarily an absolute majority over all other candidates). As in other European Union countries, participation in voting at General Elections has declined, and the turnout in the 2001 General Election was 59 per cent, the lowest since the First World War. The Government has taken a number of measures designed to increase the number of people who vote in elections, including the introduction of postal voting on demand and a rolling electoral register, updated monthly, to enable voters to register at any time of the year. New voting procedures are being tested at local elections.
British citizens, and resident citizens of other Commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland, may be elected as Members of Parliament (MPs) provided that they are aged 21 or over and are not disqualified. Each candidate's nomination must be proposed and seconded by two electors registered in the constituency and signed by eight others. Candidates do not have to be backed by a political party.