Majority Voting Systems

There are several methods of voting. Each system can produce a different winner. Voting experts group electoral systems into three general categories. They are proportional representation voting systems, mixed member voting systems and plurality voting systems. Follow My Vote plans to implement all methods of voting in our verifiable voting software. These features will be added in order as we listen to our customers and gauge popular demand.

Majority Voting Systems and Plurality Voting Systems

Majority voting systems and plurality voting systems are both used to determine a single winner in a contest. The candidates of these elections win by acquiring the most votes.   The basic premise of a majority or plurality system is that the most qualified or most favored option is selected.

The Difference Between Majority and Plurality Systems

While most experts put majority and plurality systems in the same general category, they are actually slightly different. Plurality voting lets the option with the most votes win, regardless of  passing the 50% threshold. Therefore it is possible for a candidate to win with less than 50% of the votes if there are more than two options. With a majority voting system this is not the case. The winner must receive more than 50% of the votes.

Majority Voting Systems

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Majority election systems help create a stable majority control over a legislature or parliament.

Cons

  • Small parties have little to no chance at winning.
  • Parties tend to unite until there are only two parties left.
  • Voters are commonly left with two choices, which may or may not represent their beliefs or convictions.
  • Gerrymandering and changing borders of the constituents area allow for easy manipulation of contest winners.
  • Initially majority election systems appear to be simple, but in reality they can be full of complicated decisions. This can lead to a lack of transparency and a corrupt election system.

Types of Proportional Representative Systems 

First Past The Post

First past the post (FPTP) also known as winner takes all is a plurality voting method. It is one of the most simple and widely used election methods. The option with the most votes is declared the winner.

First past the post is often used with single member legislative districts and is used in both two round voting systems and exhaustive ballots. A two round or runoff voting system uses first past the post two times. The first round determines the final two candidates for the second round.  Exhaustive ballot voting uses the same principle but can have many more rounds of voting. Each round eliminates at least on candidate.

Currently there is a movement around the world to abolish first past the post voting. Here is a video that further explains some of the issues people have with FPTP.

Instant-Runoff Voting |Alternative Vote | Ranked Choice | Transferable Vote | Preferential Voting

Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a single winner majority election method. It is also known a alternative vote (AV), ranked choice, transferable vote, and preferential voting. Why do we need so many names? We can’t answer that. But they are all the same voting method and we can tell you how they work.

Instant-runoff works by letting voters rank the options in order of preference, rather than voting for only one candidate. There must be more than two options to vote on. Initially, if one of the options receives more than 50% of the votes, that option wins and the election is over. If no option receives more than 50%, the option with the fewest votes is eliminated and those votes are transferred to the voters next choice. This process is repeated until one option receives the majority of the votes or more than 50%.

Instant-runoff voting is a very effective way of determining an option that most represents the beliefs and convictions of the voters. This method also alleviates the need for a voter to choose the candidate that will likely win rather than voting for the option that best represents the voter. People often call voting for a candidate unlikely to win “throwing away your vote”. Instant-runoff lets the voter’s voice be heard by allowing one of their preferences to count towards the final two options. For example: there are options X, Y, and Z in an election. X has 36% of the votes Y has 24%, and Z has 40%. In a traditional plurality voting system option Z would win with 40% because it received the most votes regardless of the 60% of voters would rather vote for option X or Y. In an instant runoff type election, votes initially given to option Y would be transferred.  If enough people who voted for Y ranked X as their second choice, option X could win.

Preferential Block Voting

Preferential block voting falls under majority voting category. It is used to elect multiple representatives from a multi-member electoral district. Preferential block voting should be distinguished from a single transferable vote system because preferential block voting is not used to create proportional representation.

Preferential block voting uses ranked ballots to elect representatives. Ballots can be used and issued in two ways. The first being a simple ranking from most to least preferred. The second is a hybrid ballot where the voter selects the candidates for the positions available and then lists out their ranking for the following candidates. Candidates are then eliminated following an instant-runoff elimination process. This continues until the set number of candidates are elected for the electoral district.

Limited Vote

Limited voting is a voting method where voters have less votes than the positions available. The winners are chosen by the absolute most votes. For example: A town must elect four representatives for a local legislature, but the voter can only vote for two options.

The advantage of a limited vote system is that it usually lets minority groups have a position in a legislative body.  With block voting and first past the post, the party with majority would take all of the positions. Limited vote would make it easier for a minority group to take one position.

If voters are allowed to vote for only one candidate but there are more than two positions to be filled, it is called single non-transferable voting.

Supplementary Vote

Supplementary vote is a single winner majority system. It is also called contingent voting. This voting method is identical to instant-runoff voting except that supplementary voting only has two rounds of elimination to determine the winner. Instant-runoff can have unlimited elimination rounds where votes are transferred to the voters next choice until a winner is declared.

Two-Round System

A two-round voting system is a majority voting system used to elect a single winner. Two-round voting has also been called second ballot, runoff voting, and ballotage. Two-round voting works by allowing voters to choose one option. If a candidate receives a majority of votes the election is over. If no candidate receives the majority or required number of votes, a second round of voting is held. Candidates who received less than a certain amount of votes are eliminated and ballots are cast again.

Schulz Method

The Schulz method was developed by Markus Schulze in 1997. It is a voting method that selects a single winner using votes that express preferences or ranking. It has also been called Schwartz Sequential Dropping (SSD), Cloneproof Schwartz Sequential Dropping (CSSD), the Beatpath Method, Beatpath Winner, Path Voting, and Path Winner.

The Schulz method works by allowing voters to rank the options and once all the ballots are submitted the Schulz method is applied. The Schulz method is a Condorcet voting method. This means that the winner is declared by choosing the option that wins the most when paired individually with the other options. The Schulz method is quite complicated and the computation can be seen here.

The Schulz method is used by organizations that specialize in computer software, and a few political parties.

Borda Count

The Borda count voting method is used to select a single winner. It works by assigning points to each option a voter selects based on preference or ranking. Once the ballots are counted the option with the highest amount of points wins. Borda count has been called a consensus based system over a majority system because options widely accepted by the electorate can often win instead of the options preferred by a majority party.