What Different Types of Ballots Are There?

The types of ballots used in elections include standard, preferential and approval voting ballots. Voters choose one from a list of candidates in the standard ballot and rank the candidates from their favorite to their least favorite in an ordinal or preferential ballot. Voters choose all the candidates they like in an approval voting ballot.

In categorical or standard ballots, voters make straight choices for the candidates or the parties they like. Ordinal ballots require voters to indicate their preferences among various candidates or parties by numbering the election participants in declining order. Election officials only count the ballots with first preferences. If no candidate obtains a majority of the first preferences, the officials eliminate the weakest candidate and count and transfer the second preferences expressed on his ballots to other candidates.

By structure, ballot papers may be categorized as Australian or French ballots. Australian ballots group the names of candidates vying for a single office on a single ballot, which the voter marks. The French ballot system gives voters a single ballot for very candidate vying for office. Voters mark and drop one ballot in the ballot box and dispose of the other, unused ballots. Other ballots may require voters to indicate yes or no on the name of a candidate or distribute 100 points among candidates.