Vote Counting in a Majority Vote System

Are you electing representatives for your cooperative? Or perhaps a board of directors or university committee? No matter what committee or board you are electing, choosing the appropriate electoral system is crucial for a successful election. If there’s no law governing which system you have to use, then you’ll firstly have to choose between a party list election and a candidate election. In a party list election, voters cast their vote for one complete electoral list with several candidates. In contrast, candidate elections only allow voting for a single candidate.
Using a majority vote system in your election is one option, although it is best applied in candidate elections. Learn more about the majority vote system below. 

Varieties of majority vote

Under a majority vote system, successful candidates will require some sort of majority of votes in order to be elected. However, not all majority vote systems are equal. Firstly, there’s a difference between relative majority and absolute majority. Secondly, a hybrid system exists which is called runoff voting or ballotage. 

Relative majority vote

In a relative majority vote, the candidate with the most votes wins – even if they don’t win more than 50% of the vote. This system is also known as plurality voting because the candidate needs a plurality of votes, not a majority. The election is therefore completed after just one ballot. Relative majority vote is a very simple way of deciding who gets elected. 

Absolute majority vote

In an absolute majority vote, candidates need more than 50% of the vote to win the election. If no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first ballot, the two candidates with the highest share of the vote stand for a run-off. 

Runoff voting

In runoff voting, the winner will be decided after no more than two ballots. If neither candidate wins an absolute majority (more than 50% of the votes), then a second ballot determines the winner. Here, the candidate with the most votes wins.

Vote counting in a majority vote system

The vote counting procedure under a majority vote system can be used for a candidate election as well as for a party list election. 

Vote counting in a candidate election under a majority vote system

First, decide on the number of votes available to each voter in the election.

  • If just one person will be elected, one vote per voter is appropriate.
  • If your voters decide on one open seat, vote counting under an absolute majority system is most suitable, although a run-off vote in a second ballot is more likely in this procedure.
  • If several seats in a committee are up for election, it’s possible to give your voters more than one vote. Here it’s best to use relative majority vote counting. At the end, the candidate with the most votes wins.

There is the option to accumulate votes in a candidate election. This means voters can give more than one vote to a single candidate. The so-called cumulative or weighted vote leads to a more representative election result. 

Vote counting in a party list election under a majority vote system

If you choose to conduct a party list election, you can either do a closed or an open list election.
In a closed list election, voters have one vote and vote for an entire electoral list. A special form of the closed list election is the combined election, where voters also have to decide on one electoral list but have the option to give individual listed candidates votes as well. 

If you would like to conduct your party list election as an open election, the voters don’t have to choose one electoral list but can split their votes for candidates between various electoral lists. This procedure is called panachage. The number of votes received by individual candidates has no influence on their position on the electoral list or the vote on the electoral list.
In addition, cumulative or weighted voting is possible with list elections. 

In vote counting under a majority vote system, the list with the most votes wins in the end. Relative majority vote counting is best for party list elections. However, vote counting in list elections generally works better with proportional representation. Read more about vote counting in proportional representation. 

POLYAS Tip: counting all votes manually leads to high expenditure. Online elections save time and money – not just in vote counting but while organizing the election too. Learn about all functions in our POLYAS online voting support center >

Legally valid election results with just one click

Decrease the cost of your majority vote election. In a digital election, you receive the election results simply with the click of a button. By using online communication channels, you can address your voters directly and lead an effective campaign. Have a look at voter turnout in real time and send out voting reminders to your voters.

With POLYAS, you can combine different voting procedures in an online election and offer each of your voters the most convenient way to vote: postal vote, online voting or live voting at an annual meeting.

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