Plurality voting

Plurality voting is an electoral system in which a candidate, or candidates, who poll more than any other counterpart, that is, receive a plurality), are elected. In a system based on single-member districts, it elects just one member per district and may be called first-past-the-post (FPTP), single-choice voting, simple plurality or relative/simple majority. In a system based on multi-seat districts, it elects multiple candidates in a district and may be referred to as winner-takes-all, bloc voting or plurality block voting.

The system is still used to elect members of a legislative assembly or executive officers in only a handful of countries in the world. It is used in most elections in the United States, the lower house (Lok Sabha) in India, elections to the British House of Commons and English local elections in the United Kingdom, France (run-off election) and federal and provincial elections in Canada (although prior to 1956 three provinces used Ranked voting in provincial elections).

Plurality voting is distinguished from a majoritarian electoral system in which a winning candidate must receive an absolute majority of votes: more votes than all other candidates combined. Under plurality voting, the leading candidate, whether he or she has majority of votes, is elected.

Both plurality and majoritarian systems may use single-member or multi-member constituencies. In the latter case, it may be referred to as an exhaustive counting system, and one member is elected at a time and the process repeated until the number of vacancies is filled.

In some, including France and some of the United States including Louisiana and Georgia, a "two-ballot" or "runoff-election" plurality system is used, which may require two rounds of voting. If, during the first round, no candidate receives over 50% of the votes, a second round takes place with only the top two candidates in the first round. That ensures that the winner gains a majority of votes in the second round.

Alternatively, all candidates above a certain threshold in the first round may compete in the second round. If there are more than two candidates standing, a plurality vote may decide the result.

In political science, the use of plurality voting with multiple, single-winner constituencies to elect a multi-member body is often referred to as single-member district plurality or SMDP.[1] The combination is also variously referred to as "winner-take-all" to contrast it with proportional representation systems.

The term "winner-take-all" is sometimes also used to refer to elections for multiple winners in a particular constituency using bloc voting, or MMDP. This system at the state-level is used for election of most of the electoral college in US presidential elections.