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A plurality vote (in Canada and the United States) or relative majority (in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth except Canada) describes the circumstance when a candidate or proposition polls more votes than any other but does not receive more than half of all votes cast. For example, if from 100 votes that were cast, 45 were for ''Candidate A'', 30 were for ''Candidate B'' and 25 were for ''Candidate C'', then ''Candidate A'' received a plurality of votes but not a majority. In some votes, the winning candidate or proposition may have only a plurality, depending on the rules of the organization holding the vote.


Versus majority

In international institutional law, a "simple majority" (also a "
majority A majority, also called a simple majority to distinguish it from similar terms (see the "Related terms" section below), is the greater part, or more than half, of the total.See dictionary definitions of "majority" aMerriam-Webster
") vote is more than half of the votes cast (disregarding abstentions) ''among'' alternatives; a "qualified majority" (also a "
supermajority A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority, or special majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a majority A majority, also calle ...
") is a number of votes above a specified percentage (e.g. two-thirds); a "relative majority" (also a "plurality") is the number of votes obtained that is greater than any other option; and an "absolute majority" is a number of votes "greater than the number of votes that possibly can be obtained at the same time for any other solution", when voting for ''multiple'' alternatives at a time.
Henry Watson Fowler Henry Watson Fowler (10 March 1858 – 26 December 1933) was an English schoolmaster, List of lexicographers, lexicographer and commentator on the usage of the English language. He is notable for both ''A Dictionary of Modern English Usage'' and ...
suggests that the American terms "plurality" and "majority" offer single-word alternatives for the corresponding two-word terms in British English, "relative majority" and "absolute majority", and that in British English "majority" is sometimes understood to mean "receiving the most votes" and can therefore be confused with "plurality".
William Poundstone William Poundstone is an American author, columnist, and skeptic. He has written a number of books including the '' Big Secrets'' series and a biography of Carl Sagan. Early life and education Poundstone attended MIT and studied physics. Person ...
observes that systems which allow choosing by a plurality of votes are more vulnerable to the
spoiler effect Vote splitting is an election, electoral effect in which the distribution of votes among multiple similar candidates reduces the chance of winning for any of the similar candidates, and increases the chance of winning for a dissimilar candidate. ...
—where two or more similar choices each draw fewer votes than a dissimilar choice that would have lost to any individual similar choice on its own—than systems which require a majority.


See also

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Plurality voting system Plurality voting is an electoral system in which a candidate, or candidates, who poll more than any other counterpart (that is, receive a plurality (voting), plurality), are elected. In a system based on single-member districts, it elects just ...
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Plurality-at-large voting Multiple non-transferable vote (MNTV), also known as plurality-at-large voting or block vote, is a non- proportional voting system for electing several representatives from a single multi-member electoral district An electoral district, also kn ...
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Plurality opinion A plurality opinion is in certain legal systems the opinion from one or more judges or justices of an appellate court which provides the rationale for the disposition of an appeal when no single opinion received the support of a majority of the ...
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Voting system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct and universal vote in which an entire electorate is invited to vote ...


Notes


References

{{Majorities Majority Voting theory