Plural voting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Plural voting is the practice whereby one person might be able to vote multiple times in an election. It is not to be confused with a plurality voting system which does not necessarily involve plural voting. Weighted voting is a generalisation of plural voting.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, up to 1948, people affiliated with a university were allowed a vote in both a university constituency and their home constituency, and property owners could vote both in the constituency where their property lay and that in which they lived, if the two were different. Therefore some university-educated property owners could vote in three different constituencies. After 1910, the Liberal Government was intent on passing a Plural Voting Bill that sought to prevent electors who appeared on the electoral register more than once from voting more than once. Liberal and Unionist Headquarters were in agreement that 29 seats were won by Unionists in December 1910 because of plural voting.[1] However, before the bill could pass through Parliament, the Great War started and the bill was shelved. These practices were finally abolished by the Representation of the People Act 1948, which first applied in the 1950 General Election.

Northern Ireland[edit]

Until the Electoral Law Act 1968 took effect in 1969,[2] the Queen's University, Belfast constituency was retained in the Parliament of Northern Ireland and owners of businesses were allowed to cast more than one vote. Tim Pat Coogan wrote on this subject:

Limited companies and occupiers of premises with a rateable valuation of £10 could appoint nominees – as could companies for each £10 of their valuations – under a system of plural voting, which even allowed such votes to be cast in another constituency ...[3]


In Belgium, plural voting was introduced in 1893 and applied for elections from 1894 to 1919 as a way to limit the impact of universal suffrage.

Every male citizen over 25 got one vote for legislative elections, but some electors got up to two supplementary votes according to some criteria:[4][5]

  • holder of a school diploma;
  • family head over 30, paying a poll tax of at least five francs;
  • holder of a savings account of at least 2,000 francs, or beneficiary of a life annuity of at least 100 francs.

For municipal elections, a fourth vote was granted to family heads who paid a fixed level of electoral tax, or whose cadastral income was at least of 150 francs.


The Local Government (Dublin) Act 1930, passed by the Cumann na nGaedheal government, provided that Dublin City Council would comprise 30 popularly elected "ordinary members" and five "commercial members" elected by business ratepayers (individuals or corporate persons). The commercial members were elected by single transferable vote in a single five-member constituency, with each elector casting between one and six ballots depending on the rate they paid.[6] The commercial members were abolished in 1935 by the Fianna Fáil government.[7]

Inland fisheries boards prior to 2010[8] were elected by holders of fishing licences, who until 1980[9] had varying numbers of votes depending on the cost of their licences.[10]

New Zealand[edit]

Plural voting, also referred to as "dual voting", was abolished in New Zealand in 1889. It was previously available to certain male property owners.[11]

Parental vote[edit]

It has been proposed that a parent should get a vote for each dependent child, to increase the birth rate or to increase the importance of long-term planning as an election issue. This was proposed in France in 1871 by Louis Henri de Gueydon;[12] in the UK in 2003 by Demos,[13] and in 2007 by Dutch economist Lans Bovenberg.[14] It is a policy of the Christian Party of Austria and has been proposed by some members of Law and Justice in Poland.

Contemporary theory[edit]

Philosopher Thomas Mulligan has proposed a system of plural voting which uses a mathematical algorithm to determine voters' ability and then gives higher-ability voters more votes.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lloyd George, Liberalism and the Land by Ian Packer
  2. ^ "Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1968". Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  3. ^ Tim Pat, Coogan (1987). "16". The IRA (12 ed.). Glasgow: William Collins Sons & Ltd. p. 442. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  4. ^ L'évolution du droit de vote Archived 2007-12-15 at the Wayback Machine, (official Belgian Portal)
  5. ^ Marie-Thérèse Bitsch, Histoire de la Belgique de l'Antiquité à nos jours, Bruxelles, Editions Complexe, 2004, ISBN 2-8048-0023-7
  6. ^ "Local Government (Dublin) Bill, 1929—Committee Stage (Resumed)". Dáil Éireann Debates. Oireachtas. 10 April 1930. Vol.34 No.7 p.10. Retrieved 3 February 2017.; "Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930". Irish Statute Book. §§31(1), 34, 35. Retrieved 3 February 2017.; "Electoral (Dublin Commercial) Act, 1930". Irish Statute Book. Schedule 1, §§13–14, Schedule 2. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Local Government (Dublin) Bill, 1933—Second Stage". Dáil Éireann Debate. 17 May 1933. Vol.47 No.10 p.23. Retrieved 3 February 2017.; "Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1935, Section 2". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Inland Fisheries Act 2010, §§12, 48". electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB). Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Fisheries Act, 1980, §12(2)(a)". electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB). Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  10. ^ Fisheries (Ireland) Act 1848, §9; Fisheries Act 1925, §8; Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959 §24(2). electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB). Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Key dates in New Zealand electoral reform". Elections New Zealand. Archived from the original on October 13, 2008. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  12. ^ Laut, Ernest (9 September 1903). "The depopulation hydra; Why the birth rate has fallen in France". Boston Evening Transcript. p. 16. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  13. ^ "Should parents get more than one vote?". BBC News. 10 February 2003. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  14. ^ Bovenberg, Arji Lans (2007). "Grey new world: Europe on the road to gerontocracy? Introduction" (PDF). CESifo Forum. CESifo Group (3 Europe and the demographic challenge): 22. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  15. ^ Mulligan, Thomas (2018). "Plural Voting for the Twenty-first Century". The Philosophical Quarterly. The Philosophical Quarterly. 68 (271): 286–306. doi:10.1093/pq/pqx046.