Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Systems of Voting

Majority System (to ensure winner receives 50%+) = Proportional (seats reflect proportion of votes cast) = Hybrid (mixture of the systems, including plurality) = Voting system Alternative Vote System How it works
Voters have the opportunity to rank candidates in order of preference. If candidate receives 50%+ of votes then he/she is instantly elected. Otherwise, candidate with lowest number of first preferences is eliminated and his/her second preferences redistributed to other candidates. Process continues until one candidate has more than 50% of vote. Used in Australian House of Representatives

Voters don’t have to indicate second preferences Retains constituency representation as one candidate is elected for each constituency. Ensures winning candidate has 50+ of vote, hence ‘majority system’.

Results tend to favour centre parties – because ‘winning candidate isn’t always first choice but almost always is second choice’ (Roberts)

Supplementary Vote System

Voters have two preference votes. Candidates with 50+ in first ballot win, otherwise only 2 candidates with highest number of preference votes remain. Second preference

Retains constituency representation. Produces stronger govts. (than PR). Simpler than AV. Avoids third place candidates coming through on second ballot.

votes are added to the votes for these two candidates and the one with the most votes wins. Used in London Mayoral Elections of 2000 Voting takes place on 2 separate occasions. If one candidate wins 50%+, he/she wins. Otherwise there is a second ballot later, when either the candidates with a threshold quota of votes or the top two candidates are allowed to stand Used in French Presidential elections (threshold 12.5%) Closed List system Designed for multi-member constituencies – in effect a whole city, region or even country could be one constituency Each party submits a list of candidates for a constituency, but electorate only vote for party. Seats allocated to each party in accordance with proportion of vote received. Then candidates allocated to seats, working down the list from the top.

Second Ballot System

Provides choice – voters can vote for their favourite party in first round and then candidate in the second when they know the result Votes aren’t wasted because voters can make a second choice

Not proportional & does not ensure fair representation for smaller parties Encourages pacts between parties to allow stronger candidates a better chance

List System

General advantages of PR systems: Party representation mirrors support for party across the country Provides voters with greater choice Mid-term vacancies can be filled by next candidate down in list without holding another election

Links between MP and constituencies are weaker because constituencies are multi-member Less accountability to electors as a consequence Lists are drawn up by parties, voters have very little choice

Open List system: electorate can express preference for candidates Used in many countries already, e.g. Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Spain and Finland and for European Parliament Elections

Single Transferable Vote

Country is divided into multimember constituencies. Parties can offer as many candidates as there are seats, eg. 2 seats for Maidstone, so two candidates possible per party To win a seat, candidates must reach a set quota (no. of votes cast divided by no. of seats available +1, plus one). If candidate reaches quota on first preferences then he/she is elected. Surplus votes are redistributed proportionally to other candidates. If a seat is empty because there are no one has reached the quota, the candidate with the least 1st preferences is eliminated and his/her votes redistributed Used in Republic of Ireland,

All the advantages of proportionality above Greater element of choice for constituents as they can choose between candidates and rank them in order of preference They can also just vote for one or two candidates if they choose

Difficult to hold by-elections, so different versions of STV used or AV system, or refer back to original ballot and give the seat to the next most popular candidate Very complex

Additional Member System

Australia (Senate) and in N.Ireland (Euro. Elections, Assembly) System devised by Allies following occupation of Germany after WWII Currently used in Germany & Hungary, Welsh & Scottish Assemblies Mixture of plurality system and PR system. Electorate have 2 votes, 1 for constituency candidate & 1 for party. Constituency candidates votes by simple majority, remaining seats allocated according to regional party lists on a proportional basis. As above, but constituency seats allocated on preference vote as with alternative vote system

Share of seats won by a party in a constituency is compared with proportion of vote overall and discrepancies are corrected by allocation of seats from regional party lists. However, parties need to cross a ‘threshold’, e.g. 3 constituency seats or 5% of party vote. Retain best features of plurality and majority systems – constituency based representation, parties are allocated seats more fairly

Creates 2 types of reps. – elected candidates and appointed from regional lists. Creates larger constituencies than under current system

Alternative Vote Plus System

Best features of plurality & majority systems – local MPs, fair representation in terms of seats in Parliament & clarity

Creates 2 types of representatives as above
The proportion of seats used to top up the total number of seats allocated effects the proportionality of the system. If less than 50%+ then the system lacks proportionality (Roberts, p.226)