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Vote and Voting

Process of voting

Most forms of democracy discern the will of the people by a common voting procedure:

  • Individual voter registration and qualification,
  • Opening the Election for a set time period,
  • Registration of voters at established voting locations,
  • Distribution of ballots with preset candidates, issues, and choices (including the write-in option in some cases),
  • Selection of preferred choices (often in secret, called a secret ballot),
  • Secure collection of ballots for unbiased counting, and
  • Proclamation of the will of the voters as the will of the people for their government.

[edit]Reasons for voting

In a democracyvoting commonly implies election, i.e. a way for an electorate to select among candidates for office. In politics voting is the method by which the electorate of a democracy appoints representatives in its government.

vote is an individual's act of voting, by which he or she express support or preference for a certain motion (e.g. a proposed resolution), a certain candidate, a certain selection of candidates or a political party. A secret ballot, the standard way to protect voters' political privacy, generally takes place at a polling station. The act of voting in most countries is voluntary. However, some countries, such as ArgentinaAustraliaBelgium and Brazil, have compulsory votingsystems.

[edit]Types of votes

Different voting systems use different types of vote. Suppose that the options in some election are AliceBobCharlieDaniel, and Emily and they are all vying for the same position.

In a voting system that uses a single vote, the voter can select one of the five that they most approve of. "First past the post" uses single votes. So, a voter might vote for Charlie. This precludes him voting for anyone else.

A development on the single vote system is to have run-off elections, or repeat first past the post. However, the winner must win by 50% plus one, called a simple majority. If subsequent votes must be used, often a candidate, the one with the fewest votes or anyone who wants to move their support to another candidate, is removed from the ballot.

In a voting system that uses a multiple vote, the voter can vote for any subset of the alternatives. So, a voter might vote for Alice, Bob, and Charlie, rejecting Daniel and Emily. Approval voting uses such multiple votes.

In a voting system that uses a ranked vote, the voter has to rank the alternatives in order of preference. For example, they might vote for Bob in first place, then Emily, then Alice, then Daniel, and finally Charlie. Preferential voting systems, such as those famously used in Australia, use a ranked vote.

In a voting system that uses a scored vote (or range vote), the voter gives each alternative a number between one and ten (the upper and lower bounds may vary). See range voting.

Some "multiple-winner" systems may have a single vote or one vote per elector per available position. In such a case the elector could vote for Bob and Charlie on a ballot with two votes. These types of systems can use ranked or unranked voting, and are often used for at-large positions such as on some city councils.

[edit]Fair voting

Results may lead at best to confusion, at worst to violence and even civil war, in the case of political rivals. Many alternatives may fall in the latitude of indifference - they are neither accepted nor rejected. Avoiding the choice that the most people strongly reject may sometimes be at least as important as choosing the one that they most favor. There are social choice theory definitions of seemingly reasonable criteria that are a measure of the fairness of certain aspects of voting, including non-dictatorshipunrestricted domain, non-imposition, Pareto efficiency, and independence of irrelevant alternatives but Arrow's impossibility theorem states that no voting system can meet all these standards.


In South Africa, there is a strong presence of anti-voting campaigns by poor citizens. They make the structural argument that no political party truly represents. This has resulted, for instance, in the "No Land! No House! No Vote!" Campaign which becomes very prominent each time the country holds elections.[1][2] The campaign is prominent among three of South Africa's largest social movements: The Western Cape Anti-Eviction CampaignAbahlali baseMjondolo, and the Landless Peoples Movement. Other social movements in other parts of the world also have similar campaigns or non-voting preferences. These include the Zapatistas and various Anarchist oriented movements.

[edit]Voting and information

Modern political science has questioned whether average citizens have sufficient political information to cast meaningful votes. A series of studies coming out of the University of Michiganin the 1950s and 1960s argued that voters lack a basic understanding of current issues, the liberal-conservative ideological dimension, and the relative ideologic Dilemma. [3]


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