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An overvote occurs when one votes for more than the maximum number of selections allowed in a contest.[1] The result is a spoilt vote which is not included in the final tally.

One example of an overvote would be voting for two candidates in a single race with the instruction "Vote for not more than one." Robert's Rules of Order notes that such votes are illegal: "If he votes for too many candidates for a given office, however, that particular section of the ballot is illegal, because it is not possible for the tellers to determine for whom the member desired to vote."[2]

Undervotes combined with overvotes (known as residual votes) can be an academic indicator in evaluating the accuracy of a voting system when recording voter intent.[3]

While an overvote in a plurality voting system is always illegal, in certain other electoral methods including approval voting, this style of voting is valid, and thus invalid overvotes are not possible.[4]

In the corporate world, the term "overvote" describes a situation in which someone votes more proxies than they are authorized to, or for more shares than they hold of record.[5]

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External links[edit]


  1. ^ 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, pA-13 Election Assistance Commission
  2. ^ RONR [10th ed.], p. 402, l. 8-11
  3. ^ Alvarez, R. Michael; Katz, Jonathan N.; Hill, Jonathan N. (September 20, 2005). "Machines Versus Humans: The Counting and Recounting of Pre-scored Punchcard Ballots" (PDF). VTP WORKING PAPER #32. CALTECH/MIT VOTING TECHNOLOGY PROJECT. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  4. ^ Citizens for Approval Voting - Voting definitions and examples
  5. ^ Briefing Paper: Roundtable on Proxy Voting Mechanics