See "Mixed Member Proportional"
see the Instant Runoff
A system in which voters can vote for as many candidates
as they like, or "approve of". For example, if
used in the last presidential election, voters could have
voted for both Perot and Bush, if they liked both of
them. The winner is the one who gets the most votes. For
more information, see the writing of Stephen Brams. Never
used in public elections, but is used for some private
AV: Alternative Voting
See "Instant Runoff Voting"
A Weighted System (see below) using Choice Voting. For example, if five are to be elected, the first preference gets five points, the second gets four, etc. The highest point-getters are the winners. This is a semi-proportional system, but its proportionality is poorer than Cumulative Voting.
A single-winner system in which the voter ranks the
ballot in order of preference. All the #1 votes are
counted. If no one has a majority, then all the #1 and #2
votes are counted. This process continues until a winner
is found. Has the advantage that a compromise middle
candidate could win in the second round. Has serious
practical disadvantages that occurred when it was used in
public elections circa 1935 in several states in the
South. The biggest disadvantage was that voters and
candidates were rightly afraid that their #2 votes could
defeat their favorite candidate, so they simple almost
all bullet voted. The system was therefore dropped.
The term for when a voter votes for only one candidate,
when they had the option of voting for more than one.
Center for Voting and Democracy
The pre-eminent center for educating America about
electoral systems, and especially about proportional
A system of voting in which the voter ranks the
candidates in order of preference, and the vote is
counted in a manner giving proportional results in a
multi-winner contest. This system is also called STV
(Single Transferable Voting), Preference Voting, Ranked
Choice Voting, the Hare system, the Hare/Clark system,
PR/STV, and other names. In a single-winner contest, the
system is known as the Instant Runoff System. See
"Single Transferable Voting" and "Instant
Runoff system" for more information.
Citizens (or Californians) for
Groups working to promote and establish PR in the USA.
There are an Illinois
CPR, Seattle CPR, and other
state level groups. CfER previously used the name Californians for
Proportional Representation, as well as Northern California Citizens for Proportional
Representation. Each group that we know of has a link
or contact information either from this web site, or
CVD's web site.
(1) A common name for Pairwise election methods.
(2) The gentleman who came up with the first Pairwise system.
(1) Citizens for Proportional Representation
(2) Californians for Proportional Representation (a previous name of CfER)
A semi-proportional system of voting in which each voter
has as many votes as there are seats to fill, but each
voter may give all of his/her votes to one candidates, or
split them up as s/he desires. Generally results in fair
minority representation. Since it does not allow for the
transferring of votes, voters can and do still easily
waste their votes.
Center for Voting and Democracy.
Direct Representation means that citizens individually choose their representatives in a legislature, rather than collectively in an election. There are rules to ensure that the legislature does not become too big or too small, or change too rapidly. This system guarantees that everyone has a voice in government, and that everyone's vote has an incremental effect on the legislature. See the web site on this topic.
An alternative to At-Large elections. The jurisdication
is divided into districts, and one member is elected from
each district. Often better for minority representation than
traditional at-large elections. However, it comes with a
number of severe disadvantages, including: (1) the
drawing of districts is all important, leading to a host
of new problems such as intentional and unintentional
gerrymandering, (2) each elected official does not
represent the whole jurisdiction, but rather only his/her
area, commonly leading to pork barrel politics.
In Choice Voting, the Droop Threshold is the number of
ballots divided by the number of seats plus 1, then
adding 1. For example, if there were 1000 ballots and 4
seats to be filled, the Droop Threshold would be 201
votes. This represents the fewest number of votes that
guarantees election. Also, if all winning candidates meet this threshold, a
majority of the elected body represents a majority of voters.
First Past the Post
See "Plurality election systems"
First Past the Post, See "Plurality election
This form of Choice Voting is recommended for all public
elections, and for non-governmental elections when a
computer will be used. In older forms of Choice Voting,
when a candidate was elected, and had surplus votes, some
method had to be chosen to determine which ballots would
be transferred and which would stay with the candidate.
Sometimes they were chosen randomly, sometimes just the
last ballots would be chosen, and their are other
methods. With fractional STV, a fraction of each ballot
is moved to the next most preferred candidate on each
ballot, so there is no randomness involved. This is a
pain to do by hand, but fortunately their are computer
programs to handle the count, if one wishes to use the
fractional method. Note that mathmeticians and
statisticians have shown that the vast majority of the
time that the "random" method will give the
same results as the Fractional STV. See also
The English gentleman who popularized Choice Voting, which he called 'Personal
Representation', in the second half of the 19th century. His work captured the
attention of John Stuart Mill, the most famous scholar on representative government,
who unsuccessfully campaigned for it while serving in the House of Commons. Simon
Sterne and others brought Hare's ideas to the United States.
In Choice Voting, the Hare Threshold is the number of
ballots divided by the number of seats. For example, if
there were 1000 ballots and 4 seats to be filled, the
Hare Threshold would be 250 votes. It would be ideal if all candidates met
the Hare threshold, but if many voters do not rank all of the candidates, there can be
a large disparity between the number of votes electing the first and last candidate.
The Droop threshold is more commonly used today.
Instant Runoff Voting
A system used when only one person can be elected, such
as a mayor or president. Similar too, but simpler than,
Choice Voting. Voters rank the ballot in order of
preference. At first, only the #1 rankings are counted.
If no candidate has a majority, then the weakest
candidate (the one with the fewest number of votes) is
defeated, and all of his/her ballots are transferred to
the #2 candidate on each ballot. This process continues
until someone has a majority of the votes and is the
winner. The system is normally abbreviated as
"IRV", but is also sometime abbreviates as
"IRO" or "IR". It is also sometimes
called Majority Preference Voting (MPV), or Alternative
(1) "Interactive Representation" --
In this system, elected officials have the same number of
votes as the number of people that voted for them. It uses an IRV-like procedure to limit the number of candidates. So,
each elected official has a different number of votes.
This is a very pure form of PR, but without voting for
parties. It is a relatively new concept, and to our
knowledge, has never been used in a government election.
There are some concerns about whether or not it would be
legal in public elections. The group that is promoting IR
also advocates some other major systemic reforms. For
more information, see the
Democracy 2000 web site.
(2) Sometimes used as an abbreviation for the Instant
See Instant Runoff Voting.
Stands for "Instant Runoff Voting".
A semi-proportional system in which each voter has less
votes than the total number of open seats. For example,
there may be five seats to fill, but each voter has one
vote. The top vote-getters win. Because majority voters
have only vote each, they will still normally control a
majority of the elected body, but minorities will be more
fairly represented. However, votes can be and commonly
are wasted, because their is no system to transfer votes
from one candidate to another.
Fair representation by any minority group, whether it may
be Republican in a primarily Democratic area,
African-Americans in a primarily European-American area,
A form of PR in which voters have two votes -- one
for their district representative, and one for their
favorite party. Usually 50% of the seats are awarded by
district, and 50% by the party lists. The overall
representation is based on the parties' votes. First used
in Germany. See also "Non-compensatory mixed member
An election system that is an alternative to traditional
at-large plurality systems. With modified at-large
elections, the election is still held at-large, but the
use of Choice Voting, Cumulative Voting, or Limited
Voting, allows for minority representation.
"Mixed Member Proportional"
Majority Preference Voting. See the "Instant Runoff
These semi-proportional systems have some seats filled
from districts and some from party lists, but the overall
representation is not determined by the party
vote. This means that the bigger parties that win almost
all the seats in the districts will be over-represented
in government, while the smaller parties will be
None of the Above. Has nothing to do with PR, but people
ask us about it. Means that voters have the option of
voting for a candidate or candidates, or vote None of the
Above to indicate that they dislike all the candidates.
If "NOTA" wins, the candidate is defeated, and
a special election called to try to fill the seat. There
also is an "information-only" form of NOTA in
which voters simply have an option to check that box in a
particular race even if also voting for candidates --
e.g., a way to measure voter dissatisfaction with
A family of single-winner election methods in which the voters rank the
candidates in order of preference, and then each pair of
candidates has their own little election to see who wins.
For example, if candidates A, B, and C are running, and A
beats C, but B beats A and B beats C, then B is the
winner. This is the case even if B received the fewest
number of #1 votes. In Pairwise, that doesn't matter.
Pairwise can get complicated if their is no clear winner (A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A, for example). There are many ways to resolve this, so there are many methods that fit into the Pairwise category.
A system in which (a) the head of government is not
directly elected, (b) the head of government can be
removed by a vote of parliament, and (c) the terms of
office are not fixed -- early elections can be called.
Should never be confused with PR, which affects how
candidates are elected when the people vote. Is the
opposite of presidential systems. Note that some systems
are neither pure parliamentary or presidential systems.
England, Germany, Canada and Switzerland are a few
examples of parliamentary systems.
A form of PR in which voters vote for their favorite
party. Each party is awarded seats in proportion to the
votes that it recieves from the electorate. In Open-List
systems, they also vote for their favorite candidates
within the party.
An election system in which the winners are the ones who
receive the most votes, without any transferring or other
mechanism to allow for minority representation. One
common example is a city council in which there are 5
seats to fill, all voters get five votes, and the
candidates with the top five totals win. Plurality
systems are horrible in terms of minority representation.
Another is the Presidential election -- the candidate who
receives the most votes wins each state, even if they
don't have majority support. Also sometimes called
"At-Large" elections, and District Elections
have traditionally been the proposed remedy. However, PR
is a better remedy.
(1) Proportional Representation
(2) public relations
See "Single Transferable Voting"
(1) A term often used
for Single Transferable Voting. See also
(2)Any sort of voting
system in which the voter ranks the ballot in order of
preference, such as the Single Transferable Vote, the
Instant Runoff, Pairwise, Weighted systems, and Bucklin.
Abbreviated "PR". A term for any electoral
system in which the number of seats that each party or
group receives is proportional to the votes that it
receives. The main three types of PR are "MMP",
"Choice Voting", and "Party List".
There is also a fourth type of PR called Interactive
Representation. Is the opposite of "winner take
all" or "first past the post" systems.
Provides for majority rule, but with fair minority
representation. Minimizes the number of wasted votes in
(1) Another name for Interactive Representation, or IR.
(2) A common type of election system used in corporations
in the United States, in which voters are assumed to give
their proxy to certain people unless they specify
otherwise. In practice, those designated proxy holders
control the vast majority of votes, so this system is
strikingly undemocratic. However, it does allow for great
stability within a company.
Sometimes used as an abbreviation for Preference Voting.
See "Choice Voting".
(1) Sometimes used as an abbreviation for Preference
Voting. See "Choice Voting".
(2) Sometimes used as an abbreviation for Plurality
In traditional runoff elections in the U.S.A., if no one
has achieved a majority of the votes in the first round
of voting, then another election is held, with only two
candidates allowed to run. Does result in the winner
having a majority. Unfortunately, the extra election
usually doubles the cost of the overall election, is
brutally hard on the candidates and their supporters,
and, since a special election is usually necessary,
results in a much smaller voter turnout in the runoff
election. Can be easily avoid by using IRV.
These systems are more proportional than winner-take-all
systems, but not as good as PR systems. The three most
common kinds of semi-proportional systems are Cumulative
Voting, Limited Voting, and non-compensatory mixed member
A set of rules for counting a Choice Voting election
which is suitable for a hand count for organizations that
have up to 500 votes in a contest. The system is still
fully proportional and fair, just simpler, not quite as
sophisticated as Choice Voting can be. In
Simplified STV there are no surplus ballots. The Hare
Threshold is used, the Fractional STV system is not used,
and duplicate rankings are not allowed. See also "Fractional STV".
Election systems designed for contests in which there can
be but one winner, such as a mayor or president. See
Plurality, Runoff, Instant Runoff, Pairwise, Approval,
and Bucklin. There are many other types of single-winner
elections systems, but these are the major ones.
An alternate name for Choice Voting.
Single Non-Transferable Voting. A type of Limited Voting
in which each voter gets one vote. Unlike Single
Transferable Voting, however, the vote is never
transferred, so it is a much less powerful vote.
Single Transferable Voting.
Typically used in sports polls, each voter ranks the
ballot, with each level of vote getting a different
number of points. E.g., a #1 vote might give that
candidate/team 5 points, a #2 vote might be worth 3
points, etc. The points are added up to determine the
overall team rankings. Not a bad system when the voters
are very knowledgeable and very objective. Not a great
system for public elections, because the stakes are so
much higher, and people tend to be strong supporters of
their favorite candidates.
Winner Take All systems
Systems in which 50.1% of the voters can win 100% of the
representation. These systems, by definition, are
unproportional, the very opposite of Proportional
Representation. Examples are plurality elections and
runoff elections, the two most common types of election
systems used in the United States.