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Encyclopedia > Runoff voting
An example of runoff voting. Runoff voting involves two rounds of voting. Only two candidates survive to the second round.
An example of runoff voting. Runoff voting involves two rounds of voting. Only two candidates survive to the second round.

Runoff voting (also known as the two round system or the second ballot) is a voting system used to elect a single winner. Under runoff voting the voter simply casts a single vote for her or his favourite candidate. However if no candidate receives an absolute majority of votes then all candidates but the two with the most votes are eliminated, and a second round of voting occurs. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (927x599, 39 KB) I, the creator of this work, hereby grant the permission to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (927x599, 39 KB) I, the creator of this work, hereby grant the permission to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1. ... A voting system is a process that allows a group of individuals to choose between a number of options, and determines the preferred or winning option based on the number of votes each option receives. ...


Runoff voting is widely used around the world for the election of legislative bodies and directly elected presidents. For example it is used to elect the President of France, the French National Assembly, the President of Finland and for many primary elections in the United States–see: Table of voting systems by nation. The President of France, known officially as the President of the Republic (Président de la République in French), is Frances elected Head of State. ... The Palais Bourbon, front The French National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale) is one of the two houses of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic. ... The President of Finland (Suomen Tasavallan Presidentti; Republiken Finlands President) is the Head of State of Finland. ... The examples and perspective in this article do not represent a worldwide view. ... These tables deal with voting to select candidates for office, not for the passing of legislation. ...

Contents


Terminology

The two round system is known as 'runoff voting' in the United States, where the second round is known as a 'runoff' election. Runoff voting is also sometimes used as a generic term to describe any system involving a number of rounds of voting, with eliminations after each round. By this broader definition the two round system is not the only form of 'runoff voting', and others include the exhaustive ballot. However the subject of this article is the two round system. The exhaustive ballot is a voting system used to elect a single winner. ...


Voting and counting

In both rounds of an election conducted using runoff voting, the voter simply marks an 'x' beside his favourite candidate. If no candidate has an absolute majority of votes (i.e. more than half) in the first round, then the two candidates with the most votes proceed to a second round, from which all others are excluded. In the second round, because there are only two candidates, one candidate will achieve an absolute majority. In the second round each voter is entirely free to change the candidate he votes for, even if his preferred candidate has not yet been eliminated but he has merely changed his mind.


Some variants of the two round system use a different rule for eliminating candidates, and allow more than two candidates to proceed to the second round. Under these systems it is sufficient for a candidate to receive a plurality of votes (i.e. more votes than anyone else) to be elected in the second round. In elections for the French National Assembly any candidate with fewer than 12.5% of the total vote is eliminated in the first round, and all remaining candidates are permitted to stand in the second round, in which a plurality is sufficient to be elected. Under some variants of runoff voting there is no formal rule for eliminating candidates, but, rather, candidates who receive few votes in the first round are expected to withdraw voluntarily. Historically, the President of Weimar Germany was popularly elected by a two round system that did not require an absolute majority in the second round. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with President of Germany. ...


Examples

Example I

Imagine an election to choose which food to eat for dessert. There are 25 people having dessert and four candidates: Icecream, Pie, Fruit and Celery. Runoff voting is used to find the winner.


Round 1: In the first round of voting each diner votes for the one candidate they most prefer. The results are as follows:

  • Icecream: 10 votes
  • Apple Pie: 6 votes
  • Fruit: 8 votes
  • Celery: 1 vote

Round 2: No candidate has an absolute majority of votes (in this election that would be 13) so the two candidates with the most votes, Icecream and Fruit, proceed to a second round, while Apple Pie and Celery are eliminated. Because their favourite candidates have been eliminated Apple Pie and Celery supporters must now vote for one of the two remaining candidates. The sole Celery supporter is health conscious, so now gives his vote to Fruit. However Apple Pie supporters are split: 2 prefer Icecream but 4 vote for Fruit. Of those who supported Icecream and Fruit in the first round no-one decides to change their vote. The results of the second round the are therefore:

  • Icecream: 12
  • Fruit: 13

Result: Fruit now has an absolute majority so is declared the winner.


Example II

Imagine that the population of Tennessee, a state in the United States, is voting on the location of its capital. The population of Tennessee is concentrated around its four major cities, which are spread throughout the state. For this example, suppose that the entire electorate live in one of these four cities, and that they would all like the capital to be established as close to their own city as possible. Image File history File links Tennessee_map_for_voting_example. ... Official language(s) English Capital Nashville Largest city Memphis Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 36th 109,247 km² 195 km 710 km 2. ... In politics, a capital (also called capital city or political capital — although the latter phrase has an alternative meaning based on an alternative meaning of capital) is the principal city or town associated with its government. ... In politics, an electorate is the group of people entitled to vote in an election. ...


The candidates for the capital are:

  • Memphis, the state's largest city, with 42% of the voters, but located far from the other cities
  • Nashville, with 26% of the voters
  • Knoxville, with 17% of the voters
  • Chattanooga, with 15% of the voters

Round 1: In the first round of voting the results will be as follows:

  • Memphis: 42%
  • Nashville: 26%
  • Knoxville: 17%
  • Chattanooga: 15%

Round 2: No candidate has an absolute majority in the first round (this would be greater than 50%), so Memphis and Nashville proceed to the next round, while Knoxville and Chattanooga are excluded. Both eliminated cities are closer to Nashville than Memphis. Therefore all of those who vote for either of the eliminated cities chose to vote for Nashville in the second round. None of the Memphis or Nashville supporters change their votes. The results are therefore:

  • Memphis: 42%
  • Nashville: 58%

Result: After round two Nashville has an absolute majority so is the winner.


Similar systems

Exhaustive ballot

The exhaustive ballot is similar to the two round system, but involves several rounds of voting rather than just two. If no candidate receives an absolute majority in the first round then only one candidate is eliminated, the candidate with the fewest votes, before there is a further round. There are then as many rounds as necessary, with one candidate being eliminated each time, until one candidate has an absolute majority. Because voters may have to cast votes several times, the exhaustive ballot is not used in large-scale public elections. Instead it is used in smaller contests such as the election of the presiding officer of an assembly. The exhaustive ballot often elects a different winner to runoff voting. Because the two round system excludes more than one candidate after the first round, it is possible for a candidate to be eliminated who would have gone on to win the election under exhaustive ballot. The exhaustive ballot is a voting system used to elect a single winner. ...


Instant-runoff voting

Instant-runoff voting (IRV), like the exhaustive ballot, involves multiple rounds in which the candidate with fewest votes is eliminated each time. However while the exhaustive ballot and the two round system both involve voters casting a separate vote in each round, under instant-runoff voters vote only once. This is possible because, rather than voting only for a single candidate, the voter ranks all of the candidates in order of preference. These preferences are then used to 'transfer' the votes of those whose first preference has been eliminated during the course of the count. Because the two round system and the exhaustive ballot involve separate rounds of voting, voters can use the results of one round to inform how they will vote in the next, whereas this is not possible under IRV. Because it is only necessary to vote once, IRV, like the two round system, is used for large-scale elections in many places. IRV often elects a diffferent winner to the two round system, and tends to produce the same results as the exhaustive ballot. Instant-runoff voting (IRV) (also known as the Alternative Vote and by several other names) is an electoral system used for single winner elections in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. ...


In Australia, this system is called Preferential voting. A how-to-vote card from the Australian federal election of 2004, showing voters how to fill in the squares on the ballot paper if they wish to vote for the Liberal Party of Australia and allocate preferences according to the Partys recommendations. ...


Contingent vote

The contingent vote is a variant of instant-runoff voting that has been used in the past in Queensland, in Australia. Under the contingent vote voters cast only one vote, by ranking all of the candidates in order of preference. However it only involves two rounds of counting and uses the same rule for eliminating candidates as the two round system. After the first round all but the two candidates with most votes are eliminated. Therefore one candidate always achieves an absolute majority in the second round. Because of these similarities the contingent vote tends to elect the same winner as the two round system, and often produces different results to instant-runoff voting. A variant of the contingent vote, called the supplementary vote, is used to elect mayors in England. Another variant elects the President of Sri Lanka. The contingent vote is an electoral system used to elect a single winner, in which the voter ranks the candidates in order of preference. ... Emblems: Faunal - Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus); Floral - Cooktown orchid (Dendrobium bigibbum); Bird - Brolga (Grus rubicunda); Aquatic - Barrier Reef Anemonefish (Amphiprion akindynos); Gem - Sapphire; Colour - Maroon Motto: Audax at Fidelis (Bold but Faithful) Slogan or Nickname: Sunshine State, Smart State Other Australian states and territories Capital Brisbane Government Governor Premier Const. ... The Supplementary Vote (SV) is a voting system used for the election of a single candidate. ... Royal motto (French): Dieu et mon droit (Translated: God and my right) Englands location (dark green) within the United Kingdom (light green), with the Republic of Ireland (blue) to its west Languages None official English de facto Capital None official London de facto Largest city London Area – Total Ranked... The following is a list of Sri Lankan presidents. ...


Tactical voting and strategic nomination

Main article: Tactical manipulation of runoff voting

Runoff voting is intended to reduce the potential for tactical voting by eliminating 'wasted' votes. Under the 'first past the post' (plurality) system voters are encouraged to vote tactically by voting only for one of the two leading candidates, because a vote for any other candidate will not effect the result. Under runoff voting this tactic, known as 'compromising', is sometimes unnecessary because, even if a voter's favourite candidate is eliminated in the first round, she will still have an opportunity to influence the result of the election by voting for a more popular candidate in the second round. However the tactic of compromising can still be used in runoff voting because it is sometimes necessary to compromise as a way of influencing which two candidates will survive to the second round. In order to do this it is necessary to vote for one of the three leading candidates in the first round, just as in an election held under the plurality system it is necessary to vote for one of the two leading candidates. Like virtually all electoral systems, in runoff voting there is potential for both tactical voting and strategic nomination. ... In voting systems, tactical voting (or strategic voting) occurs when a voter misrepresents his or her sincere preferences in order to gain a more favorable outcome. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Plurality. ...


Runoff voting is also vulnerable to another tactic called 'push over'. This is a tactic by which voters vote tactically for an unpopular 'push over' candidate in the first round as a way of helping their true favourite candidate win in the second round round. The purpose of voting for the 'push over' is to ensure that it is this weak candidate, rather than a stronger rival, who survives to challenge a one's preferred candidate in the second round.


Runoff voting can be influenced by strategic nomination; this is where candidates and political factions influence the result of an election by either nominating extra candidates or withdrawing a candidate who would otherwise have stood. Runoff voting is vulnerable to strategic nomination for the same reasons that it is open to the voting tactic of 'compromising'. This is because a candidate who knows they are unlikely to win can ensure that another candidate they support makes it to the second round by withdrawing from the race before the first round occurs, or by never choosing to stand in the first place. By withdrawing candidates a political faction can avoid the 'spoiler effect', whereby a candidate 'splits the vote' of its supporters. A famous example of this spoiler effect occurred in the 2002 French presidential election, when so many left-wing candidates stood in the first round that all of them were eliminated and two right-wing candidates advanced to the second round. Strategic nomination is the manipulation of an election through its candidate set (compare this to tactical voting, where the manipulation comes from the voters). ... The spoiler effect is a term to describe the effect a candidate can have on a close election, in which their candidacy results in the election being won by a candidate dissimilar to them, rather than a candidate similar to them. ... // Second Round First Round General Summary On May 1, Labour Day, the yearly demonstrations for workers rights were compounded by protests against Jean-Marie Le Pen. ...


Impact on factions and candidates

Runoff voting encourages candidates to appeal to a broad cross-section of voters. This is because, in order to win an absolute majority in the second round, it is necessary for a candidate to win the support of voters whose favourite candidate has been eliminated. Under runoff voting, between rounds of voting eliminated candidates, and the factions who previously supported them, often issue recommendations to their supporters as to who to vote for in the second round of the contest. This means that eliminated candidates are still able to influence the result of the election. This influence leads to political bargaining between the two remaining candidates and the parties and candidates who have been eliminated, sometimes resulting in the two successful candidates making policy concessions to the less successful ones. Because it encourages concilliation and negotiation in these ways runoff voting is advocated, in various forms, by some supporters of deliberative democracy. Deliberative democracy, also sometimes called discursive democracy, is a term used by political theorists, e. ...


Runoff voting is designed for single seat constituencies. Therefore, like other single seat methods, if used to elect a council or legislature it will not produce proportional representation (PR). This means that it is likely to lead to the representation of a small number of larger parties in an assembly, rather than a proliferation of small parties. In practice runoff voting produces results very similar to those produced by the plurality system, and encourages a two party system similar to those found in many countries that use plurality. Under a parliamentary system it is more likely to produce single party governments than are PR systems, which tend to produce coalition governments. While runoff voting is designed to ensure that each individual candidate elected is supported by a majority of those in her constituency, if used to elect an assembly it does not ensure this result on a national level. As in other non-PR systems, the party or coalition which wins a majority of seats will often not have the support of an absolute majority of voters across the nation. A legislature is a governmental deliberative assembly with the power to adopt laws. ... Proportional representation, also known as full representation, is an electoral system in which the overall votes are reflected in the overall outcome of the body or bodies of representatives. ... States currently utilizing parliamentary systems are denoted in red and orange—the former being constitutional monarchies and the latter being republics A parliamentary system, also known as parliamentarianism (and parliamentarism in U.S. English), is distinguished by the executive branch of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support... A coalition government, or coalition cabinet, is a cabinet in parliamentary government in which several parties cooperate. ...


Majoritarianism

The intention of runoff voting is that the winning candidate will have the support of an absolute majority of voters. Under the 'first past the post' system the candidate with most votes (a plurality) wins, even if they do not have an absolute majority (more than half) of votes. The two rounds system tries to overcome this problem by only permitting two candidates in the second round, so that one must receive an absolute majority of votes. However critics argue that the absolute majority obtained by the winner of runoff voting is an artificial one. As seen above, instant-runoff voting and the exhaustive ballot are two other voting systems that create an absolute majority for one candidate by eliminating weaker candidates over multiple rounds. However, as noted above, despite the fact that all three systems have the same aim, runoff voting will often produce an absolute majority for a different winner than the candidate elected by the other two. Absolute majority is a supermajoritarian voting requirement which is stricter than a simple majority. ...


Advocates of Condorcet's method, another voting system, argue that a candidate can only claim to have majority support if they are the 'Condorcet winner'–that is, the candidate voters prefer to every other candidate when compared to them one at a time. In runoff voting the winning candidate is only matched, one-on-one, with one of the other candidates. When runoff voting elects a candidate other than the 'Condorcet winner' it will always be found that a majority of voters prefer the Condorcet winner to the runoff voting winner. Any election method conforming to the Condorcet criterion is known as a Condorcet method. ...


Practical implications

In large-scale public elections the two rounds of runoff voting are held on separate days, and so involve voters going to the polls twice. In smaller elections, such as those in assemblies or private organisations, it is sometimes possible to conduct both rounds in quick succession. However the fact that it involves two rounds means that, for large elections, runoff voting is more expensive than some other electoral systems. It may also lead to 'voter fatigue' and a reduced turn-out in the second round. In French elections the second round seldom has a turn-out as high as the first. In runoff voting the counting of votes in each round is simple and occurs in the same way as under the plurality system. Preferential voting systems, such as instant-runoff voting, involve a longer, more complicated count. Men turning out to vote in the Australian 1899 Federation referendum. ... A how-to-vote card from the Australian federal election of 2004, showing voters how to fill in the squares on the ballot paper if they wish to vote for the Liberal Party of Australia and allocate preferences according to the Partys recommendations. ...


See also

  • Run-off primary election

A Run-off primary election (a. ...

External links

  • Electoral Systems Index: Two Round System
    • Advantages
    • Disadvantages

  Results from FactBites:
 
Runoff voting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2473 words)
Under runoff voting this tactic, known as 'compromising', is sometimes unnecessary because, even if a voter's favourite candidate is eliminated in the first round, she will still have an opportunity to influence the result of the election by voting for a more popular candidate in the second round.
Runoff voting can be influenced by strategic nomination; this is where candidates and political factions influence the result of an election by either nominating extra candidates or withdrawing a candidate who would otherwise have stood.
Runoff voting is vulnerable to strategic nomination for the same reasons that it is open to the voting tactic of 'compromising'.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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