Voting is a method for a group such as a meeting or an electorate to make a decision
Decision making
Decision making can be regarded as the mental processes resulting in the selection of a course of action among several alternative scenarios. Every decision making process produces a final choice. The output can be an action or an opinion of choice.- Overview :Human performance in decision terms...

 or express an opinion—often following discussions, debates, or election campaigns. It is often found in democracies and republics
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...


Reasons for voting

In a representative government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

, voting commonly implies election: 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.

A vote is an individual's act of voting, by which he or she expresses support or preference for a certain motion
Motion (parliamentary procedure)
In parliamentary procedure, a motion is a formal proposal by a member of a deliberative assembly that the assembly take certain action. In a parliament, this is also called a parliamentary motion and includes legislative motions, budgetary motions, supplementary budgetary motions, and petitionary...

 (for example, a proposed resolution), a certain candidate, a selection of candidates, or a political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

. With a secret ballot
Secret ballot
The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery. The system is one means of achieving the goal of...

 to protect voters' political privacy
Political privacy
Political privacy has been a concern since voting systems emerged in ancient times. The secret ballot is the simplest and most widespread measure to ensure that political views are not known to anyone other than the voter—it is nearly universal in modern democracy, and considered a basic right of...

, voting generally takes place at a polling station
Polling station
A polling place or polling station is where voters cast their ballots in elections.Since elections generally take place over a one- or two-day span on a periodic basis, often annual or longer, polling places are often located in facilities used for other purposes, such as schools, churches, sports...

. The act of voting is voluntary in some countries; whereas some countries, such as Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, have compulsory voting
Compulsory voting
Compulsory voting is a system in which electors are obliged to vote in elections or attend a polling place on voting day. If an eligible voter does not attend a polling place, he or she may be subject to punitive measures such as fines, community service, or perhaps imprisonment if fines are unpaid...


Types of votes

Different voting system
Voting system
A voting system or electoral system is a method by which voters make a choice between options, often in an election or on a policy referendum....

s use different types of vote. Suppose that the options in some election are Alice, Bob, Charlie, Dan, and Emily and they are all running for the same position:

In a voting system that uses a single vote, the voter selects his or her most preferred candidate. "Plurality voting system
Plurality voting system
The plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member constituencies...

s" use single votes.
A development on the single vote system is to have two-round
Two-round system
The two-round system is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate...

 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.

An alternative to the Two-round voting system is the single round Preferential voting
Preferential voting
Preferential voting is a type of ballot structure used in several electoral systems in which voters rank candidates in order of relative preference. For example, the voter may select their first choice as '1', their second preference a '2', and so on...

 system (Also referred to as Alternative vote or Instant run-off) as used in Australia, Ireland and some states in the USA. Voters rank each candidate in order of preference (1,2,3 etc.). Votes are distributed to each candidate according to the preferences allocated. If no single candidate has 50% or more votes then the candidate with the least votes is excluded and their votes redistributed according to the voters nominated order of preference. The process repeating itself until a candidate has 50% or more votes. The system is designed to produce the same result as an exhaustive ballot
Exhaustive ballot
The exhaustive ballot is a voting system used to elect a single winner. Under the exhaustive ballot the elector simply casts a single vote for his or her favorite candidate. However if no candidate is supported by an overall majority of votes then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated...

 but using only a single round of voting.

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
Approval voting
Approval voting is a single-winner voting system used for elections. Each voter may vote for as many of the candidates as the voter wishes. The winner is the candidate receiving the most votes. Each voter may vote for any combination of candidates and may give each candidate at most one vote.The...

 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
Range voting
Range voting is a voting system for one-seat elections under which voters score each candidate, the scores are added up, and the candidate with the highest score wins.A form of range voting was apparently used in...


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
Plurality-at-large voting
Plurality-at-large voting is a non-proportional voting system for electing several representatives from a single multimember electoral district using a series of check boxes and tallying votes similar to a plurality election...

 voting, and are often used for at-large
At-large is a designation for representative members of a governing body who are elected or appointed to represent the whole membership of the body , rather than a subset of that membership...

 positions such as on some city councils.

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
Social choice theory
Social choice theory is a theoretical framework for measuring individual interests, values, or welfares as an aggregate towards collective decision. A non-theoretical example of a collective decision is passing a set of laws under a constitution. Social choice theory dates from Condorcet's...

 definitions of seemingly reasonable criteria that are a measure of the fairness of certain aspects of voting, including non-dictatorship
In voting theory, non-dictatorship is a property of social choice functions, where the results cannot simply mirror that of any ONE single person's preferences without consideration of the other voters. Fairness requires that the social welfare function take into account the desires of more than...

, unrestricted domain
Unrestricted domain
In social choice theory, unrestricted domain, or universality, is a property of social welfare functions in which all preferences of all voters are allowed...

, non-imposition, Pareto efficiency
Pareto efficiency
Pareto efficiency, or Pareto optimality, is a concept in economics with applications in engineering and social sciences. The term is named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who used the concept in his studies of economic efficiency and income distribution.Given an initial allocation of...

, and independence of irrelevant alternatives
Independence of irrelevant alternatives
Independence of irrelevant alternatives is an axiom of decision theory and various social sciences.The word is used in different meanings in different contexts....

 but Arrow's impossibility theorem
Arrow's impossibility theorem
In social choice theory, Arrow’s impossibility theorem, the General Possibility Theorem, or Arrow’s paradox, states that, when voters have three or more distinct alternatives , no voting system can convert the ranked preferences of individuals into a community-wide ranking while also meeting a...

 states that no voting system can meet all these standards. Yet in 2011, there has been a suggestion for a better and more fair voting system, which was actually suggested to developed countries, e.g. UK, US, etc.


In South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, there is a strong presence of anti-voting campaigns by poor citizens. They make the structural argument that no political party truly represents them. For instance, this resulted in the "No Land! No House! No Vote!
No Land! No House! No Vote!
No Land! No House! No Vote! is the name of a campaign by a number of poor people's movements in South Africa that calls for the boycotting of the vote and a general rejection of party politics and vote banking...

" Campaign which becomes very prominent each time the country holds elections. The campaign is prominent among three of South Africa's largest social movements: the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign
Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign
The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign is a non-racial popular movement made up of poor and oppressed communities in Cape Town, South Africa...

, Abahlali baseMjondolo, and the Landless Peoples Movement
Landless Peoples Movement
The Landless People's Movement is an independent social movement in South Africa. It represents rural people and people living in shack settlements in cities. The LPM boycotts parliamentary elections and has a history of conflict with the African National Congress...

. Other social movements in other parts of the world also have similar campaigns or non-voting preferences. These include the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Zapatista Army of National Liberation
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation is a revolutionary leftist group based in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico....

 and various Anarchist oriented movements.

Voting and information

Modern political science has questioned whether average
In mathematics, an average, or central tendency of a data set is a measure of the "middle" value of the data set. Average is one form of central tendency. Not all central tendencies should be considered definitions of average....

 citizens have sufficient political information to cast meaningful votes. A series of studies coming out of the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

 in the 1950s and 1960s argued that voters lack a basic understanding of current issues, the liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 dimension, and the relative idealogical dilemma.

Religious view

Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, Old Order Amish, Christadelphians
Christadelphians is a Christian group that developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century...

, Rastafarians and some other religious groups share a religious tradition of not participating in politics through voting.

See also

  • Cosmopolitan democracy
    Cosmopolitan democracy
    Cosmopolitan democracy is a political theory which explores the application of norms and values of democracy at different levels, from global to local. It is about what global governance of the people, by the people, to the people can mean...

  • Democratic mundialization
    Democratic mundialization
    Mundialization is the name of one of the movements aiming at democratic globalization.Democratic globalization is the concept of an institutional system of global democracy that would give world citizens a say in world organizations. This would, in the view of its proponents, bypass nation-states,...

  • Dollar voting
    Dollar voting
    In economics, dollar voting is an analogy used to explain how the purchasing choices of consumers affect which products will continue to be produced and supplied to the market...

  • Electoral fraud
    Electoral fraud
    Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates or both...

  • Electoral system
  • Gerrymandering
    In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts...

  • Mandate (politics)
    Mandate (politics)
    In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative.The concept of a government having a legitimate mandate to govern via the fair winning of a democratic election is a central idea of democracy...

  • Portal:Politics
  • Preferential voting
    Preferential voting
    Preferential voting is a type of ballot structure used in several electoral systems in which voters rank candidates in order of relative preference. For example, the voter may select their first choice as '1', their second preference a '2', and so on...

  • Presidential election
    Presidential election
    A presidential election is the election of any head of state whose official title is president.- United States :The United States has elections on the state and local levels...

  • Proportional representation
    Proportional representation
    Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

  • Psephology
    Psephology is that branch of political science which deals with the study and scientific analysis of elections. Psephology uses historical precinct voting data, public opinion polls, campaign finance information and similar statistical data. The term was coined in the United Kingdom in 1952 by...

  • Redistricting
    Redistricting is the process of drawing United States electoral district boundaries, often in response to population changes determined by the results of the decennial census. In 36 states, the state legislature has primary responsibility for creating a redistricting plan, in many cases subject to...

  • Referendum
    A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

  • Suffrage
    Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

  • Voter turnout
    Voter turnout
    Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

External links

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