What Are The Three Types Of Voting Systems?

March 2, 2022

An electoral system is how citizens appoint federal and state officials. There are different kinds of electoral systems currently in use. But, there are now three main types widely used. They are first-past-the-post voting, preferential voting, and majority voting.

Understanding The Three Main Types Of Voting Systems

First, it is essential to remember that countries use various voting systems across the globe. Some are currently in practice, while others are purely theoretical. According to the electoral experts, you can classify voting systems into three categories, which we will consider shortly. 

Though these systems may have similar outcomes or features, they also have advantages and disadvantages. Their main differences are typically in their voting procedures and not necessarily their results. 

It is also crucial for all stakeholders in the electoral process to fully understand what a preferential ballot is since it has become an essential topic regarding how officials will conduct future elections. 

The information below intends to provide you with more information regarding the three central voting systems so that you can see how they may affect you whenever you go to cast your ballot.

First-Past-The-Post Voting

Under the first-past-the-post voting system, the voter gets the option of casting a single vote for the candidate of their choice. Among those vying for the post in question, the person who receives the most ballots wins.

Aside from state and federal elections, the first-past-the-post voting method is in place in institutions, schools, and other organizations. The main reason is that voters only need to pick their most preferred candidate. 

The system can also elect candidates to two positions. The candidate with the most votes is elected to the senior position, whereas the candidate with the second-highest votes fills the other role. For example, consider a school captain and vice-captain.

Aside from the United States, many countries use the first-past-the-post voting method, including Canada and India.

Preferential Voting

The main idea behind the preferential voting system is to provide voters with a means of ranking the candidates vying for a particular seat in order of their choice (preference). Voters assign the number one next to their first choice. Then they put the number two next to their second, and so forth. 

If a voter’s first choice of candidate fails to be elected, officials may re-examine their vote, and their other preferences will have consideration. By doing this, candidates can build an absolute majority of support (more than fifty percent of the votes) instead of the simple majority required under the first-past-the-post voting method.

Despite this system being more complex, preferential voting is considered a better option since it delivers a satisfactory result to most voters. The method was first used in an Australian federal election back in 1917 during a by-election in Victoria for an upcoming general election for both houses of their federal parliament.

Majority Electoral System

Some people refer to the majority voting method as the plurality electoral system. In this case, a candidate does not need more than fifty percent of the votes to be declared the winner. In stricter terms, for any aspirant to be declared the winner in the majority voting process, they must garner more than fifty percent of the votes. 

In some circles, this is known as the second ballot system, as it requires a pure majority of fifty-percent-plus-one-vote to win. If none of the other contenders attain this margin, then a second election must be held with only a few candidates from the first round. The one who reaches the fifty-percent-plus-one-vote target will then be declared the winner.

In Conclusion

It is fair to say that until recently, most of the electoral systems used across the globe have usually proved remarkably resilient to any radical change, regardless of how hard some institutions push for their reform. 

However, this pattern has broken down in several established democracies in the last decade. The emergence of revitalized governments has also played a significant role in the revival of interest in what criteria officials should use for voting.

Given these developments, the primary goal of the information provided above is to outline the main variants between the different kinds of voting methods currently in use. It also intends to stir up the right kind of debate among stakeholders of the sector, especially regarding the reformation of the status quo.

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