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Plurality (voting)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A plurality vote (in North America) or relative majority (in the United Kingdom)[1] describes the circumstance when a candidate or proposition polls more votes than any other, but does not receive a majority.[2] For example, if 100 votes were cast, including 45 for Candidate A, 30 for Candidate B and 25 for Candidate C, then Candidate A received a plurality of votes but not a majority. In some votes, the winning candidate or proposition may have only a plurality, depending on the rules of the organization holding the vote.[3]

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  • ✪ Plurality & Majority Definition for Kids
  • ✪ Voting Theory: Plurality Method and Condorcet Criterion


So, from our election here, let's find the winner using the plurality method. The plurality method is probably what you're most familiar with. It is the idea that We're only going to look at people's first choice. We're going to ignore everything else. and we're going to look at which choice, or which candidate, got the highest number of first choice votes. Now the, this is a slightly dfferent than majority rules, because majority implies 50% more than 50% is a majority. When we have more than 2 options it's quite common that none of the choices get 50% of the votes. So notice here that A, got four first choice votes. One here and three here. Or, O here got three, first choice votes and Hawii got three first choice votes. So the winner under. Plurality method is A. Notice that this is however it's 4 votes out of 10 is 40% so this is not a majority, this is what's called a plurality and hence the plurality method. Now, the plurality method is, you know, fairly well known and very easy to do. So, so, what's the issue with it? So, let's talk about Condorcet winners. so Condorcet was looked at voting and, and, we're going to look at preferences if there is only two choices. So, let's compare A versus A versus O. So if it was a versus , these people would prefer A. These people would prefer A. These people would prefer O. These people would prefer A. Now, remember, we're ignoring H as an option. So A would have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven people liking A, whereas O only has three people preferring it over Over the other option. Now again we're looking at 1 1 on 1 comparison here. So in this in this comparison a would be the preferred choice. If we look at a versus h, then let's see. A is preferred, a is preferred, h is preferred, h is preferred, so four people prefer a and six people prefer h and so h would be the preferred choice there. How about o versus h. so if we look at o versus h o is preferred here, h is preferred here, o. And H, so we have one, two, three, I'm sorry, one and three is four people preferring O, and six people preferring H, so H is preferred. So, notice something really interesting here, H is preferred, by the majority. so H is preferred by the majority. I suppose I should spell that right. Preferred by the majority over A and is preferred over O. If, if those were the only options and yet. Our winner under plurality method is A. So the co, so in this case because H is preferred over all other candidates, we call H, we call H the Condorcet winner or the Condorcet candidate. and in this case plurality method did not choose the Condorcet winner. Now not every election has one, but this one does. And so this is what we call a violation of a fairness criteria, and this is called the Condorcet criteria. it says that if there's a condorcet winner, they should win or, more appropriately, it would be fair if they win and, plurality is not doing that. So that suggests that plurality is not a particularly fair method for voting.


Versus majority

In international institutional law, a "simple majority" (also a "majority") vote is more than half of the votes cast (disregarding abstentions) among alternatives; a "qualified majority" (also a "supermajority") is a number of votes above a specified percentage (e.g. two-thirds); a "relative majority" (also a "plurality") is the number of votes obtained that is greater than any other option; and an "absolute majority" is a number of votes "greater than the number of votes that possibly can be obtained at the same time for any other solution",[note 1] when voting for multiple alternatives at a time.[4][note 2]

Henry Watson Fowler suggests that the American terms "plurality" and "majority" offer single-word alternatives for the corresponding two-word terms in British English, "relative majority" and "absolute majority", and that in British English "majority" is sometimes understood to mean "receiving the most votes" and can therefore be confused with "plurality".[1][note 3] William Poundstone observes that systems which allow choosing by a plurality of votes are more vulnerable to the spoiler effect—where two or more similar choices each draw fewer votes than a dissimilar choice that would have lost to any individual similar choice on its own—than systems which require a majority.[5]

See also


  1. ^ For example, 50 voters elect six office holders from a field of 11 candidates, thereby casting 300 votes. The largest absolute majority in this scenario would be 50 voters casting all their ballots for the same six candidates, which at 300 votes would be substantially higher than the simple majority of 151 votes—a result that no individual candidate can achieve, since the most votes any one can receive is 50. With the smallest absolute majority in this scenario, the six winners would receive 28 votes each, totaling 168, and the runners-up would receive either 27 or 26 votes each.
  2. ^ An "absolute majority" can also mean a "majority of the entire membership", a voting basis that requires that more than half of all the members of a body (including those absent and those present but not voting) to vote in favour of a proposition in order for it to be passed.
  3. ^ "With three-cornered contests as common as they now are, we may have occasion to find a convenient single word for what we used to call an absolute majority... In America the word majority itself has that meaning while a poll greater than that of any other candidate, but less than half the votes cast is called a plurality. It might be useful to borrow this distinction..." —Henry Watson Fowler


  1. ^ a b Fowler, Henry Watson (1965). A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 725. ISBN 0199535345.
  2. ^ "plurality". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2015-12-29. a number of votes that is more than the number of votes for any other candidate or party but that is not more than half of the total number of votes
  3. ^ Robert, Henry M. III; Honemann, Daniel H.; Balch, Thomas J. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (11 ed.). Da Capo Press. pp. 404–405. ISBN 9780306820212.
  4. ^ Schermers, Henry G.; Blokker, Niels M. (2011). International Institutional Law: Unity Within Diversity (5 ed.). Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 9004187987.
  5. ^ Poundstone, William (2009). Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It). New York: Macmillan. p. 352. ISBN 9781429957649.
This page was last edited on 30 January 2019, at 01:07
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