At-large is a designation for members of a governing body who are elected or appointed to represent the whole membership of the body (notably, a city, county, state or province, nation, club or association), rather than a subset of that membership. At-large voting is in contrast to voting by electoral districts.
If an at-large election is called to choose a single candidate, a single-winner voting system must necessarily be used. If a group of seats must be covered, many electoral systems can be possible, from proportional representation methods (such as party-list proportional representation, or PR-STV) to block voting.
A number of municipalities in Canada elect part or all of their city councils at-large. Although this form of municipal election is most common in small towns due to the difficulty of dividing the municipality into wards, several larger cities use an at-large system as well:
At the federal level, Canada's three territories, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are each represented in the Parliament of Canada by one at-large Member of Parliament and one at-large Senator. However, all Canadian provinces, regardless of size, are divided into multiple electoral districts.
In Israel, elections for the Knesset (the national parliament) are conducted on an at-large basis by proportional representation from party lists. Election of municipal and town (but not regional) councils is also done on an at-large basis by proportional representation from party lists.
In the Netherlands, elections for the House of Representatives (the lower house of the States-General, the national parliament) are conducted on an at-large basis by proportional representation from party lists.
In Philippine politics, "at-large" usually refers to the manner of election of the Senate: the voters have twelve votes, with the country acting as one at-large "district", the twelve candidates with the most votes are elected (plurality-at-large voting).
Provinces that send only one representative to the House of Representatives are called "lone districts". All local legislatures elect member via at-large districts via plurality-at-large voting. Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council), Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay) (village) Council, Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Councils) and some Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Councils) all elect members with each local government unit acting as one at-large district. Some City Councils and all Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) members are elected with the city or province being split into as much as seven districts, then each district elects at least two members, at-large.
Article One of the United States Constitution provides for direct election of members of the House of Representatives. A congressional act passed in 1967, 2 U.S.C. § 2c, dictates that representatives must be elected from geographical districts and that these must be single-member districts, except when the state has a single representative, in which case one at-large representative is elected from the entire state.
This is a table of every instance of at-large representation in the United States Congress when the same state had geographically defined districts as well.
|Congress||State & Number of at-large seats|
|43rd||AL (2), AR (1), IN (2), LA (1), NY (1), PA (3), SC (1), TN (1), TX (2)|
|48th||AR (1), CA (2), GA (1), KS (4), NY (1), NC (1), PA (1), VA (1)|
|53rd||IL (2), KS (1), PA (2)|
|54th||KS (1), PA (2)|
|55th||KS (1), PA (2)|
|56th||KS (1), PA (2)|
|57th||KS (1), PA (2)|
|58th||CO (1), CT (1), KS (1)|
|59th||CO (1), CT (1), KS (1)|
|60th||CO (1), CT (1)|
|61st||CO (1), CT (1)|
|62nd||CO (1), CT (1)|
|63rd||AL (1), CO (2), FL (1), IL (2), MI (1), MN (1), OH (1), OK (3), PA (4), TX (2), WA (2), WV (1)|
|64th||AL (1), IL (2), PA (4), TX (2), WV (1)|
|65th||IL (2), PA (4), TX (2)|
|66th||IL (2), PA (4)|
|67th||IL (2), PA (4)|
|73rd||CT (1), FL (1), IL (2), NY (2), OH (2), OK (1), TX (3)|
|74th||CT (1), FL (1), IL (2), NY (2), OH (2), OK (1)|
|75th||CT (1), IL (2), NY (2), OH (2), OK (1)|
|76th||CT (1), IL (2), NY (2), OH (2), OK (1)|
|77th||CT (1), IL (2), NY (2), OH (2), OK (1)|
|78th||CT (1), FL (1), IL (1), NY (2), OH (1), PA (1)|
|79th||CT (1), IL (1), OH (1)|
|80th||CT (1), IL (1), OH (1)|
|81st||CT (1), OH (1)|
|82nd||CT (1), OH (1)|
|83rd||CT (1), TX (1), WA (1)|
|84th||CT (1), TX (1), WA (1)|
|85th||CT (1), TX (1), WA (1)|
|88th||CT (1), MD (1), MI (1), OH (1), TX (1)|
|89th||MD (1), OH (1), TX (1)|
Since passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and lessening of some historic barriers to voter registration and voting, legal challenges have been made based on at-large election schemes at the county or city level, including in school board elections, in numerous jurisdictions where minorities had been effectively excluded from representation on local councils or boards. An example is Charleston County, South Carolina, which was sued in 2001 and reached a settlement in 2004. Its county commission changed to nine members elected from single-member districts; in 2015 they included six white Republicans and three African-American Democrats, where the black minority makes up more than one-third of the population.
In another instance, in 2013 Fayette County, Georgia, which had an estimated 70% white majority and 20% black minority, was ordered by a federal district court to develop single-member districts for election of members to its county council and its school board. Due to at-large voting, African Americans had been unable to elect any candidate of their choice to either of these boards for decades.Such local election systems have become subject to litigation, since enabling more representative elections can create entry points for minorities and women into the political system, as well as providing more representative government. In the late 1980s, several major cities in Tennessee reached settlement in court cases to adopt single-member districts in order to enable minorities to elect candidates of their choice to city councils; they had previously been excluded by at-large voting favoring the majority population. By 2015, voters in two of these cities had elected women mayors who had gotten their start in being elected to the city council from single-member districts.
Some states have laws which further discourage the use of at-large districts. For example, the California Voting Rights Act removes one of the criteria required for a successful federal Voting Rights Act challenge, thus resulting in hundreds of cities, school districts, and special districts to move to single member area-based elections.
Some jurisdictions have kept at-large city councils and boards, but in the case of Cambridge, Massachusetts, hold ranked-choice voting for all seats.
Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish an unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries, which is most commonly used in first-past-the-post electoral systems.
Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. If n% of the electorate support a particular political party as their favorite, then roughly n% of seats will be won by that party. The essence of such systems is that all votes contribute to the result—not just a plurality, or a bare majority. The most prevalent forms of proportional representation all require the use of multiple-member voting districts, as it is not possible to fill a single seat in a proportional manner. In fact, the implementations of PR that achieve the highest levels of proportionality tend to include districts with large numbers of seats.
The single transferable vote (STV) is a proportional voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through ranked voting in multi-seat organizations or constituencies. Under STV, each elector (voter) gets a single vote in an election electing multiple winners, but that vote may end up assigned to an elector's second, third, etc. choice or being apportioned fractionally to different candidates. Each elector initially votes for their most preferred candidate. Votes are totalled, and a quota is derived. If the elector's first-ranked candidate achieves the quota, they are elected; and, in some STV systems, any surplus vote is transferred to other candidates in proportion to all electors' stated preferences. If more candidates than seats remain, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, with the votes in their favour being transferred to other candidates as determined by the voters' stated preferences. These elections and eliminations, and vote transfers if applicable, continue until there are only as many candidates as there are unfilled seats. The specific method of transferring votes varies in different systems.
An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council member elected by voters.
An electoral district, also known as an election in district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a territorial subdivision for electing members to a legislative body. Generally, only voters (constituents) who reside within the district are permitted to vote in an election held there. From a single district, a single member or multiple members might be chosen. Members might be chosen by a first-past-the-post system or a proportional representative system, or another voting method entirely. Members might be chosen through a direct election under universal suffrage, an indirect election, or another form of suffrage.
The Japanese political process has three types of elections: general elections to the House of Representatives held every four years, elections to the House of Councillors held every three years to choose half of its members, and local elections held every four years for offices in prefectures and municipalities. Elections are supervised by Election Administration Commissions at each administrative level under the general direction of the Central Election Management Council, an extraordinary organ attached to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC). The minimum voting age in Japan's non-compulsory electoral system was reduced from twenty to eighteen years in June 2016. Voters must satisfy a three-month residency requirement before being allowed to cast a ballot.
There are three types of elections in Nepal: elections to the Federal Parliament, elections to the state assemblies and elections to the local government. Within each of these categories there may be by-elections as well as general elections. Currently three electoral systems are used: parallel voting for House of Representatives and provincial assemblies, Single transferable vote for National Assembly and first past the post for local elections.
In the United Kingdom (UK), each of the electoral areas or divisions called constituencies elects one member to the House of Commons.
Historically, the single transferable vote (STV) electoral system has seen a series of relatively modest periods of usage and disusage throughout the world; however, today it is seeing increasing popularity and proposed implementation as a method of electoral reform. STV has been used in many different local, regional and national electoral systems, as well as in various other types of bodies, around the world.
In South Africa, a local municipality or Category B municipality is a type of municipality that serves as the third, and most local, tier of local government. Each district municipality is divided into a number of local municipalities, and responsibility for municipal affairs is divided between the district and local municipalities. There are 205 local municipalities in South Africa.
The politics of the Highland council area in Scotland are evident in the deliberations and decisions of the Highland Council, in elections to the council, and in elections to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster) and the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood). In the European Parliament the area is within the Scotland constituency, which covers all of the 32 council areas of Scotland.
Politics in the Dundee Citycouncil area are evident in the deliberations and decisions of Dundee City Council, in elections to the council, and in elections to the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) and the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster).
Multi-member constituencies existed in the Parliament of the United Kingdom and its predecessor bodies in the component parts of the United Kingdom from the earliest era of elected representation until they were abolished by the Representation of the People Act 1948. Since the 1950 general election, all members of the House of Commons have been elected from single-member constituencies.
The legislative districts of the Philippines are the divisions of the Philippines' provinces and cities for representation in the various legislative bodies. Congressional districts are for House of Representatives, while there are districts for Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and some Sangguniang Panlungsod. For purposes of representation, the Senate, most Sangguniang Panlungsod, Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan are all elected at-large, although there were previously senatorial districts.
Plurality-at-large voting, also known as block vote or multiple non-transferable vote (MNTV), is a non-proportional voting system for electing several representatives from a single multimember electoral district using a series of check boxes and tallying votes similar to a plurality election. Multiple winners are elected simultaneously to serve the district. Block voting is not a system for obtaining proportional representation; instead the usual result is that where the candidates divide into definitive parties the most popular party in the district sees its full slate of candidates elected, resulting in a landslide.
Elections to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar were held on 3 May 2007, the same day as the other Scottish local government elections and the Scottish Parliament general election. The election was the first one using 9 new wards created as a results of the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, each ward elected three or four councillors using the single transferable vote system a form of proportional representation. The new wards replaced 31 single-member wards which used the plurality system of election.
Electoral districts go by different names depending on the country and the office being elected.
Elections to Orkney Islands Council were held on 3 May 2007, the same day as the other Scottish local government elections and the Scottish Parliament general election. The election was the first one using six new wards created as a results of the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, each ward will elect three or four councillors using the single transferable vote system a form of proportional representation. The new wards replace 21 single-member wards which used the plurality system of election.
The Wellington local elections, 2010 are part of the 2010 New Zealand local elections, to elect members to sub-national councils and boards. The Wellington elections cover one regional council, eight territorial authority councils, three district health boards, and various local boards and licensing trusts.