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Clockwise from top left: ballot for a referendum in Panama, ballot box for a French election, women voting in Bangladesh, an electronic voting machine in Brazil, a sign at a United States voting location, election inking on a man's finger in Afghanistan

Voting is a method by which a group, such as a meeting or an electorate, convenes together for the purpose of making a collective decision or expressing an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. Democracies elect holders of high office by voting. Residents of a jurisdiction represented by an elected official are called "constituents", and the constituents who choose to cast a ballot for their chosen candidate are called "voters." There are different systems for collecting votes, but while many of the systems used in decision-making can also be used as electoral systems, any which cater to proportional representation can only be used in elections.


In smaller organizations, voting can occur in many different ways: formally via ballot to elect others for example within a workplace, to elect members of political associations, or to choose roles for others; or informally with a spoken agreement or a gesture like a raised hand, or electronically.

In politics

In a democracy, the government is elected by the people who vote in an election: a way for an electorate to elect, i.e., choose, among several different candidates. [1] It is more than likely that elections will be between two opposing parties. These two will be the most established and most popular parties in the country. For example, in the US, the competition is between the Republicans and the Democrats. In an indirect democracy, voting is the method by which the person elected (in charge) represents the people, whilst making decisions. Direct democracy is the complete opposite, the people make the policy decisions directly without selecting a representative to do it for them.

A majority vote is when more than half of voters vote for the same person or party. However, whilst it is usually said each individual's vote does count, many countries use a combination of factors to decide who has power, not the at-large "popular vote". Most influential of these factors are districts that divide the electorate. For example, in the UK a party winning plurality in a majority of constituencies wins majority government, but they may not always have the most individual votes (i.e. they may have lose the popular vote but still win the seat count). (It is also possible for a party to win plurality in a minority of constituencies (but more than any other one party) and thus win minority government.)

Many liberal democracies use what is called a secret ballot, hoping to prevent individuals from becoming influenced by other people and to protect their political privacy. The objective of secret ballots is to try to achieve the most authentic outcome, without any risk of peer pressure, threat, or services linked to one's vote: the person votes for their actual preferred choice.

Voting often takes place at a polling station but voting can also be done remotely by mail or using internet voting (such as in Estonia). Voting is voluntary in some countries, like the UK, but it may be compulsory in others, such as Australia.

Because countries have different rules about whether or not voting is compulsory, statistics showing how voting has changed will differ.

Decision-making systems

Voters seek one outcome: a government majority who will vote in favor of a decision or a prioritization that the voter cares about. Voters and/or elected representatives may seek in several way to identify what the majority opinion is. Three types include the simple, weighted, or consociational majority vote. Other multi-option procedures include two-round voting, the alternative vote (AV) - also known as instant run-off voting (IRV) - and the single transferable vote (STV), approval voting, the Borda Count (BC), the Modified Borda Count (MBC), and the Condorcet method, nearly all of which are also used as electoral systems. They are outlined below.

Electoral systems

There are many electoral methods. The purpose of an election may be to choose one person, such as a president, or a group, such as a committee or a parliament. In electing a parliament, either each of many small constituencies can elect a single representative, as in Britain; or each of a lesser number of multi-member constituencies may elect two or more representatives, as in Ireland; or multi-member districts and some single-member districts can be used; or the entire country can be treated as one "at-large" district, as in The Netherlands.

In Switzerland, without the need to register, every citizen receives at home the ballot papers and information brochure for each voting (and can send it by post). Switzerland has a direct democracy system and votes (and elections) are organized about four times a year; here, to Berne's citizens in November 2008 about 5 national, 2 cantonal, 4 municipal referendums, and 2 elections (government and parliament of the City of Berne) to take care of at the same time. Swiss voting material.jpg
In Switzerland, without the need to register, every citizen receives at home the ballot papers and information brochure for each voting (and can send it by post). Switzerland has a direct democracy system and votes (and elections) are organized about four times a year; here, to Berne's citizens in November 2008 about 5 national, 2 cantonal, 4 municipal referendums, and 2 elections (government and parliament of the City of Berne) to take care of at the same time.

Different voting systems use different ballot designs. Some ballots allow only one choice to be selected (single X voting); others allow ranking or selecting multiple options (Ranked ballots).

Different voting systems allow each voter to cast a different number of votes - only one (single voting as in First-past-the-post voting, Single non-transferable voting and Single transferable voting); as many as are being elected in a multiple-member district (multiple voting as used in Plurality block voting; more than one but fewer than are being elected in a multiple-member district (Limited voting). Most allow a voter to put just one vote on each candidate, but others allow a voter's votes to be piled on to one candidate.

Different voting systems require different levels of support to be elected. Plurality voting (First-past-the-post voting) elects the candidate with more votes than any other single candidate. It does not require the winner to achieve a voting majority, to have more than half of the total votes cast. In First-past-the-post voting, when more than two candidates run, the winner commonly has less than half of the vote, as few as 18 percent was recorded in 2014 in Toronto. [2] In Instant-runoff voting, a candidate must have a majority of votes to be elected, although presence of exhausted votes may mean that the majority at time of final count is not majority of votes cast.

In STV, any candidate who takes quota (usually set at much less than half of the votes) is elected; others without quota (but with more votes than any other single candidate) may be declared elected as well.

Side effects of First-past-the-post voting include a waste of votes due to vote splitting, a two-party system and political polarization due to electing candidates that do not support centrism. To understand why a race using First-past-the-post voting tends to favor less-centric candidates, consider a simple lab experiment where students in a class vote for their favorite marble. If five marbles are assigned names and are placed "up for election", and if three of them are green, one is red, and one is blue, then a green marble will rarely win the election. The reason for the green's lack of success is vote splitting. The three green marbles will split the votes of those who prefer green. In fact, in this analogy, the only way that a green marble is likely to win is if more than three-fifths of the voters prefer green. If the same number of people prefer green as those who prefer red and blue, that is to say, if one-third of the voters prefer green, one-third prefer blue, and one-third prefer red, then each green marble will only get one-ninth of the vote, if the green marbles each take same number of votes, while the red and blue marbles will each get one-third, putting the green marbles at a serious disadvantage. If the experiment is repeated with other colors, the color that is in the majority (if the majority is split among multiple choices) will still rarely win. In other words, from a purely mathematical perspective, a single-winner system tends to favor a winner that is different from the majority, if the majority runs multiple candidates, and if the minority group runs just one candidate. This minority rule success can also result if multiple winners are elected and voters cast multiple votes (Plurality block voting). But even if the majority is split among multiple candidates, proportionate results can still be produced if votes can be transferred, as under STV, or if multiple winners are elected and each voter has just one vote.

Alternatives to First-past-the-post voting include approval voting, two-round, proportional representation, and instant-runoff voting. With approval voting, voters are encouraged to vote for as many candidates as they approve of, so the winner is much more likely to be any one of the five marbles because people who prefer green will be able to vote for every one of the green marbles. With two-round elections, the field of candidates is thinned prior to the second round of voting. In most cases, the winner must receive a majority of the votes, which is more than half. If no candidate obtains a majority in the first round, then the two candidates with the most significant plurality run again for the second round of voting. Variants exist regarding these two points: the requirement for being elected at the first round is sometimes less than 50%, and the rules for participation in the runoff may vary.

With single-round ranked voting, such as instant-runoff voting system as used in some elections in Australia and the United States, voters rank each candidate in order of preference (1,2,3,4 etc.). Votes are distributed to each candidate according to the first preferences. If no single candidate has 50% of the vote, then the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded and their votes are redistributed according to the voter's nominated order of preference. The process repeats itself until a candidate has 50% or more votes. The system is designed to produce the same result as an exhaustive ballot but using only a single round of voting.

Ranked voting is also used in a PR format. PR-STV is used in Australia, Ireland and Malta. Quota is calculated. In say a four-seat constituency, quota (if Droop quota is used) is 20 percent of the valid vote plus 1. Every candidate with quota (of 1st preferences alone or combination of first preferences and later preferences) will be elected. If a candidate has more than a quota and seats are yet to be filled, his/her surplus will be distributed to the other candidates in proportion to all of that candidate's 2nd preferences, in line with secondary preferences marked on the vote if any. If there are still candidates to be elected and no surplus votes to be transferred, the least-popular is eliminated, as above in AV or IRV, and the process continues until four candidates have reached a quota or are declared elected when the field of candidates is thinned to the number of remaining open seats.

In the Quota Borda System (QBS), [3] the voters also cast their preferences, 1,2,3,4... as they wish. In the analysis, all 1st preferences are counted; all 2nd preferences are counted; after these preferences have been translated into points per the rules of a Modified Borda Count (MBC), the candidates' points are also counted. Seats are awarded to any candidates with a quota of 1st preferences; to any pair of candidates with two quotas of 1st/2nd preferences; and if seats are still to be filled, to those candidates with the highest MBC scores.

In a voting system that uses multiple votes (Plurality block voting), the voter can vote for any subset of the running candidates. So, a voter might vote for Alice, Bob, and Charlie, rejecting Daniel and Emily. Approval voting uses such multiple votes.

In a voting system that uses a ranked vote, the voter ranks the candidates in order of preference. For example, they might mark a preference for Bob in the first place, then Emily, then Alice, then Daniel, and finally Charlie. Ranked voting systems, such as those used in Australia and Ireland, use a ranked vote.

In a voting system that uses a scored vote (or range vote), the voter gives each alternative a number between one and ten (the upper and lower bounds may vary). See cardinal voting systems.

Some "multiple-winner" systems such as the Single Non-Transferable Vote, SNTV, used in Afghanistan and Vanuatu give a single vote or one vote per elector per available position.

STV uses single ranked votes; block voting (Plurality-at-large voting) are often used for at-large positions such as on some city councils.

Finally, the Condorcet rule is used (sometimes) in decision-making. The voters or elected representatives cast their preferences on one, some, or all options, 1,2,3,4... as in PR-STV or QBS. In the analysis, option A is compared to option B, and if A is more popular than B, then A wins this pairing. Next, A is compared with option C, then D, and so on. Likewise, B is compared with C, D, etc. The option which wins the most pairings, (if there is one), is the Condorcet winner.


When the citizens of a country are invited to vote, they are participating in an election. However, people can also vote in referendums and initiatives. Since the end of the eighteenth century, more than five hundred national referendums (including initiatives) were organized in the world; among them, more than three hundred were held in Switzerland. [4] Australia ranked second with dozens of referendums.

Most referendums are binary. The first multi-option referendum was held in New Zealand in 1894, and most of them are conducted under a two-round system. New Zealand had a five-option referendum in 1992, while Guam had a six-option plebiscite in 1982, which also offered a blank option, in case some voters wanted to (campaign and) vote for a seventh option.

Fair voting

The results of an election may lead to confusion, and in extreme cases, could lead to violence and even a civil war. Many alternatives may fall in the latitude of indifference—they are neither accepted nor rejected.

There are social choice theory definitions of seemingly reasonable criteria that are a measure of the fairness of certain aspects of voting, including non-dictatorship, unrestricted domain, non-imposition, Pareto efficiency, and independence of irrelevant alternatives. However, Arrow's impossibility theorem states that no voting system can meet all these standards.

To ensure fair voting and to prevent the misuse of its microblogging platform, Twitter announced that it was going to be adding a feature for its users to be able to report content that misleads voters. [5]

Negative voting

Negative voting allows a vote that expresses the people's disapproval of a candidate. For explanatory purposes, consider a hypothetical voting system that uses negative voting. In this system, one vote is allowed, with the choice of either for a candidate or against a candidate. Each positive vote adds one to a candidate's overall total, while a negative vote subtracts one, arriving at a net favorability. The candidate with the highest net favorability is the winner. Not only is a negative total possible, but also, a candidate may even be elected with 0 votes if enough negative votes are cast against their opponents.

Under this implementation, negative voting is no different from a positive voting system, when only two candidates are on the ballot. However, in the case of three or more candidates, each negative vote for a candidate counts positively toward all of the other candidates.

Consider the following example:

Three candidates are running for the same seat. Two hypothetical election results are given, contrasting positive and negative voting. (The illustration assumes perfect polling accuracy and total voter turnout.)

Current standing in the polls
AParty 140%
BParty 230%
CParty 330%
Election results after positive voting
CandidatesA votersB votersC votersNet total
Election results after negative voting
CandidatesA votersB votersC votersNet total

Election results with positive voting: A-voters, with the clear advantage of 40%, logically vote for Candidate A. B-voters, unconfident of their candidate's chances, split their votes exactly in half, giving both Candidates A and C 15% each. C-voters, also logically vote for their candidate. A is the winner with 55%, C at 45%, and B at 0%.

Election results with negative voting: A-voters again, with the clear advantage of 40%, logically vote for Candidate A. B-voters, split exactly in half. Each B-voter decides to vote negatively against their least favourite candidate, with the reasoning that this negative vote allows them to express approval for the two other candidates. C-voters also decide to vote negatively against Candidate A, reasoning along similar lines. Candidate B is the winner with 0 votes. Enough negative votes were cast against Candidate B's opponents, resulting in negative totals. Candidate A, despite having polled at 40%, winds up with -5%, offset due to the aggregate 45% of negative votes cast by B and C voters. Candidate C ends up with -15%.

Proxy voting

Proxy voting is a form of voting in which a registered citizen who can legally vote passes on his or her vote to a different voter or electorate who will vote in his stead.


In South Africa, there is a strong presence of anti-voting campaigns by poor citizens. They make the structural argument that no political party truly represents them. This resulted in the "No Land! No House! No Vote!" campaign, which becomes very prominent each time the country holds elections. [6] [7] The campaign is prominent among three of South Africa's largest social movements: the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Abahlali baseMjondolo, and the Landless Peoples Movement.

Other social movements in other parts of the world also have similar campaigns or non-voting preferences. These include the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and various anarchist-oriented movements.

It is possible to make a blank vote, carrying out the act of voting, which may be compulsory, without selecting any candidate or option, often as an act of protest. In some jurisdictions, there is an official none of the above option and it is counted as a valid vote. Usually, blank and null votes are counted (together or separately) but are not considered valid.

Voting and information

Modern political science has questioned whether average citizens have sufficient political knowledge to cast meaningful votes. A series of studies coming out of the University of Michigan in the 1950s and 1960s argued that many voters lack a basic understanding of current issues, the liberal–conservative ideological dimension, and the relative ideological dilemma that are important to understand when making political decisions. [8] Studies from other institutions have suggested that the physical appearance of candidates is a criterion upon which voters base their decision. [9] [10] Voting advice applications can increase political knowledge enabling to cast informed votes. [11]

Religious views

Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Old Order Amish, Rastafarians, the Assemblies of Yahweh, and some other religious groups, have a policy of not participating in politics and this extends to voting. [12] [13] Rabbis from all Jewish denominations encourage voting and some even consider it a religious obligation. [14]

Meetings and gatherings

Whenever several people who do not all agree need to make some decision, voting is a very common way of reaching a decision peacefully. The right to vote is usually restricted to certain people. Members of a society or club, or shareholders of a company, but not outsiders, may elect its officers, or adopt or change its rules, in a similar way to the election of people to official positions. A panel of judges, either formal judicial authorities or judges of the competition, may decide by voting. A group of friends or members of a family may decide which film to see by voting. The method of voting can range from formal submission of written votes, through show of hands, voice voting or audience response systems, to informal noting which outcome seems to be preferred by more people.

Voting basis

According to Robert's Rules of Order, a widely used guide to parliamentary procedure, the bases for determining the voting result consists of two elements: (1) the number of votes that are required for a proposal to be adopted or for a candidate to be elected (e.g. more than half, two-thirds, three-quarters, etc., of the total); and (2) the set of members to which the proportion applies (e.g. the members present and voting, the members present, the entire membership of the organization, the entire electorate, etc.). [15] An example of this concept is the need for a majority vote of the members present and voting.

Alternatively, a decision could be made without a formal vote by using unanimous consent. [16]

A voting method is the way in which people cast their votes in an election or a referendum. There are several different methods in use around the world.

Voting methods in deliberative assemblies

Deliberative assemblies—bodies that use parliamentary procedure to arrive at decisions—use several methods when voting on motions (formal proposals by a member or members of a deliberative assembly). The regular methods of voting in such bodies are a voice vote, a rising vote, and a show of hands. Additional forms of voting include a recorded vote and balloting. The assembly can decide on the voting method by adopting a motion on it.

Voting methods

Paper-based methods

Young woman's first vote. Cooktown, Australia. Young woman's first vote. Cooktown, Australia.jpg
Young woman's first vote. Cooktown, Australia.

The most common voting method uses paper ballots on which voters mark their preferences. This may involve marking their support for a candidate or party listed on the ballot, or a write-in where they write out the name of their preferred candidate (if it is not listed).

Ballot letters in Israel Kalpi israel 18.JPG
Ballot letters in Israel

An alternative method that is still paper-based known as ballot letters is used in Israel, where polling booths contain a tray with ballots for each party running in the elections; the ballots are marked with the letter(s) assigned to that party. Voters are given an envelope into which they put the ballot of the party they wish to vote for, before placing the envelope in the ballot box. The same system is also implemented in Latvia.

Machine voting

Machine voting uses voting machines, which may be manual (e.g. lever machines) or electronic. [17]

Online voting

Some countries allow people to vote online. Estonia was one of the first countries to use online voting: it was first used in their 2005 local elections. [18]

Postal voting

Many countries allow postal voting, where voters are sent a ballot and return it by post.

Open ballot

In contrast to a secret ballot, an open ballot takes place in public and is commonly done by a show of hands. An example is the Landsgemeinde system in Switzerland, which is still in use in the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Glarus, Grisons, and Schwyz.

Other methods

In Gambia, voting is carried out using marbles. The method was introduced in 1965 to deal with illiteracy. [19] Polling stations contain metal drums painted in party colours and emblems with candidates' photos attached to them. [20] [19] Voters are given a marble to place in the drum of their chosen candidate; when dropped into the drum, a bell sounds to register the vote. To avoid confusion, bicycles are banned near polling booths on election day. [19] If the marble is left on top of the drum rather than placed in it, the vote is deemed invalid. [21]

A similar system used in social clubs sees voters given a white ball to indicate support and a black ball to indicate opposition. This led to the coining of the term blackballing.

In person

Some votes are carried out in person if all the people eligible to vote are present. This could be by a show of hands or keypad polling.

See also

Related Research Articles

Plurality voting refers to electoral systems in which a candidate who polls more than any other is elected. In systems based on single-member districts, it elects just one member per district and may also be referred to as first-past-the-post (FPTP), single-member plurality (SMP/SMDP), or single-choice (choose-one) voting. A system that elects multiple winners elected at once with the plurality rule and where each voter casts multiple X votes in a multi-seat district is referred to as plurality block voting. A semi-proportional system that elects multiple winners elected at once with the plurality rule and where each voter casts just one vote in a multi-seat district is known as single non-transferable voting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Proportional representation</span> Voting system that makes outcomes proportional to vote totals

Proportional representation (PR) refers to any type of electoral system under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to political divisions among voters. The essence of such systems is that all votes cast – or almost all votes cast – contribute to the result and are effectively used to help elect someone – not just a bare plurality or (exclusively) the majority – and that the system produces mixed, balanced representation reflecting how votes are cast.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Two-round system</span> Voting system

The two-round system (TRS), also known as runoff voting, second ballot, or ballotage, is a voting method used to elect a single candidate, where voters cast a single vote for their preferred candidate. It generally ensures a majoritarian result, not a simple-plurality result as under first past the post. Under the two-round election system, the election process usually proceeds to a second round only if in the first round no candidate received a absolute majority of votes cast, or some other lower prescribed percentage. Under the two-round system, usually only the two candidates who received the most votes in the first round, or only those candidates who received above a prescribed proportion of the votes, are candidates in the second round. Other candidates are excluded from the second round.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Single transferable vote</span> Proportional representation ranked voting system

The single transferable vote (STV), sometimes known as proportional ranked choice voting (P-RCV), is a multi-winner electoral system in which each voter casts a single vote in the form of a ranked-choice ballot. Voters have the option to rank candidates, and their vote may be transferred according to alternate preferences if their preferred candidate is eliminated or elected with surplus votes, so that their vote is used to elect someone they prefer over others in the running. STV aims to approach proportional representation based on votes cast in the district where it is used, so that each vote is worth about the same as another. Formally, STV satisfies a fairness criterion known as proportionality for solid coalitions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Condorcet method</span> Pairwise-comparison electoral system

A Condorcet method is an election method that elects the candidate who wins a majority of the vote in every head-to-head election against each of the other candidates, whenever there is such a candidate. A candidate with this property, the pairwise champion or beats-all winner, is formally called the Condorcet winner. The head-to-head elections need not be done separately; a voter's choice within any given pair can be determined from the ranking.

Cumulative voting is a multiple-winner method intended to promote more proportional representation than winner-take-all elections such as block voting or first past the post. Cumulative voting is used frequently in corporate governance, where it is mandated by some (7) U.S. states.

Block voting, also known as bloc voting, refers to certain electoral systems where multiple candidates are elected simultaneously. They do not guarantee minority representation and allow a group of voters to ensure that only their preferred candidates are elected. In these systems, a voter can select as many candidates as there are open seats. That is, the voter has as many votes to cast as the number of seats to fill. The block voting systems are among various election systems available for use in multi-member districts where the voting system allows for the selection of multiple winners at once.

In an election, a candidate is called a Condorcet, beats-all, or majority winner if more than half of all voters would support them in any one-on-one matchup with another candidate. Such a candidate is also called an undefeated or tournament champion, by analogy with round-robin tournaments. Voting systems where a majority choice will always win the election are said to satisfy the Condorcetcriterion.

The majority criterion is a voting system criterion. The criterion states that "if only one candidate is ranked first by a majority of voters, then that candidate must win."

The single transferable vote (STV) is a proportional representation voting system that elects multiple winners. It is one of several ways of choosing winners from ballots that rank candidates by preference. Under STV, an elector's vote is initially allocated to their most-preferred candidate. Candidates are elected (winners) if their vote tally reaches quota. After this 1st Count, if seats still remain open, surplus votes are transferred from winners to remaining candidates (hopefuls) according to the surplus ballots' next usable back-up preference. if no surplus votes have to be transferred, then the least-popular candidate is eliminated so the vote has chance to be placed on a candidate who can use it.

Positional voting is a ranked voting electoral system in which the options or candidates receive points based on their rank position on each ballot and the one with the most points overall wins. The lower-ranked preference in any adjacent pair is generally of less value than the higher-ranked one. Although it may sometimes be weighted the same, it is never worth more. A valid progression of points or weightings may be chosen at will or it may form a mathematical sequence such as an arithmetic progression, a geometric one or a harmonic one. The set of weightings employed in an election heavily influences the rank ordering of the candidates. The steeper the initial decline in preference values with descending rank, the more polarised and less consensual the positional voting system becomes.

Reversal symmetry is a voting system criterion which requires that if candidate A is the unique winner, and each voter's individual preferences are inverted, then A must not be elected. Methods that satisfy reversal symmetry include Borda count, ranked pairs, Kemeny–Young method, and Schulze method. Methods that fail include Bucklin voting, instant-runoff voting and Condorcet methods that fail the Condorcet loser criterion such as Minimax.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Contingent vote</span> Single-winner ranked-choice electoral system

The contingent vote is an electoral system used to elect a single representative in which a candidate requires a majority of votes to win. It is a form of preferential voting. The voter ranks the candidates in order of preference, and when the votes are counted, the first preference votes only are counted. If no candidate has a majority of the votes cast, then all but the two leading candidates are eliminated and the votes received by the eliminated candidates are distributed among the two remaining candidates according to voters' preferences. This ensures that one candidate achieves a majority and is declared elected.

There are a number of complications and issues surrounding the application and use of single transferable vote proportional representation that form the basis of discussions between its advocates and detractors.

The Borda count is a family of positional voting rules which gives each candidate, for each ballot, a number of points corresponding to the number of candidates ranked lower. In the original variant, the lowest-ranked candidate gets 0 points, the next-lowest gets 1 point, etc., and the highest-ranked candidate gets n − 1 points, where n is the number of candidates. Once all votes have been counted, the option or candidate with the most points is the winner. The Borda count is intended to elect broadly acceptable options or candidates, rather than those preferred by a majority, and so is often described as a consensus-based voting system rather than a majoritarian one.

Instant-runoff voting (IRV), also known as plurality with elimination or plurality loser, is a ranked-choice voting system that modifies plurality by repeatedly eliminating the last-place winner until only one candidate is left. In the United Kingdom, it is generally called the alternative vote (AV). In the United States, IRV is often referred to as ranked-choice voting (RCV), by way of conflation with ranked voting systems in general; however, this use is not widespread outside of North America or among election scientists.

In elections that use the single transferable vote (STV) method, quotas are used (a) for the determination of candidates considered elected; and (b) for the calculation of surplus votes to be redistributed. Two quotas in common use are the Hare quota and the Droop quota. The largest remainder method of party-list proportional representation can also use Hare quotas or Droop quotas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electoral system</span> Method by which voters make a choice between options

An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Electoral systems are used in politics to elect governments, while non-political elections may take place in business, non-profit organisations and informal organisations. These rules govern all aspects of the voting process: when elections occur, who is allowed to vote, who can stand as a candidate, how ballots are marked and cast, how the ballots are counted, how votes translate into the election outcome, limits on campaign spending, and other factors that can affect the result. Political electoral systems are defined by constitutions and electoral laws, are typically conducted by election commissions, and can use multiple types of elections for different offices.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ranked voting</span> Family of electoral systems

The term ranked voting, also known as preferential voting or ranked-choice voting, pertains to any voting system where voters indicate a rank to order candidates or options—in a sequence from first, second, third, and onwards—on their ballots. Ranked voting systems vary based on the ballot marking process, how preferences are tabulated and counted, the number of seats available for election, and whether voters are allowed to rank candidates equally.

A major branch of social choice theory is devoted to the comparison of electoral systems, otherwise known as social choice functions. Viewed from the perspective of political science, electoral systems are rules for conducting elections and determining winners from the ballots cast. From the perspective of economics, mathematics, and philosophy, a social choice function is a mathematical function that determines how a society should make choices, given a collection of individual preferences.


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