Plurality (voting)

In voting, a plurality vote is the largest number of votes to be received by any candidate or proposition when three or more choices are possible. With only 2 choices the winner would have the majority. The candidate or proposition receiving the largest number of votes has a plurality. The concept of "plurality" in voting can be contrasted with the concept of "majority". Majority is "more than half". Combining these two concepts in a sentence makes it clearer, "A plurality of votes is a total vote received by a candidate greater than that received by any single opponent but less than a majority of the vote.

For example, take an election where 100 voters choose between candidates A, B and C. A gains 40 votes, B gets 35 and C 25. A has received a plurality of the vote, as he has received more than B or C. However, he has fallen short of a majority, which would require 51 votes. In this example A has 40%; B 35%; and C 25% of the total but none has more than half the vote (51%)

The plurality voting system, also known as "first past the post", elects the candidate who is the stated first choice of the largest number of the voters who have cast a valid vote.

Smallest possible plurality

The smallest possible plurality is (v+n-1)/n, rounded up, where v is the number of members of the group (voters) and n is the number of categories (candidates). Thus in a five-candidate plurality election, just over 20 percent of the vote can theoretically win. If n is 2 then the plurality becomes a majority.


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