POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Majority Vote

In majority voting, a single proposal is chosen from a number of alternatives by the majority of voters. In a majority election, the candidate who receives the most votes is the one who takes place on the body (parliament, board of directors, council). This election procedure is therefore suitable for the direct election of a single representative, which is why it is often also referred to as a single-winner vote. 

Examples: Election of a chairperson, election of a constituency’s direct candidate for the German Bundestag (first vote)


Special case: Multiple winners

A majority vote can also result in several people being elected, for example if three committee members are elected from a total of ten candidates on a ballot paper. Generally, the number of winners of a majority vote corresponds to the maximum number of votes that could be cast on the ballot.

Examples: Election of several committee members in one electoral process, election of the members of an advisory board


Special case: Poll

A poll is a decision or resolution on an issue that has been specified in a polling question or proposal. Ordinarily, voters can approve, reject, or abstain from the proposal. Depending on the articles of incorporation, statute, legal basis, or election regulations, the approval ("Yes") may require a special qualified majority.

Examples: Votes on draft laws in the German Bundestag, amendments to the statutes



Simple majority

With the simple majority, a candidate or a voting option must receive the majority of the votes cast, i.e. more votes than all other candidates, in order to win the election.

Absolute majority

In the case of an absolute majority, a candidate or a voting option must receive more than half of all votes cast, i.e. 50 percent plus one vote.

Two-thirds majority

With a two-thirds majority, a candidate or a voting option has to receive two-thirds of all votes cast, i.e. 66,6666666...%%.


Majority voting is one of two basic types of voting systems: The opposite of majority voting is proportional representation.

Did you know?
It is easy and cost-effective to conduct a majority vote as an online vote!

How to do it?

See also: Proportional Vote, Direct Elections, List Elections

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