Plurality (voting)

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In North American English, plurality, also called relative majority[1] in the context of voting, is the largest number of votes received by one candidate (or any proposal in a referendum) out of the entire group of candidates.[2] It is contrasted with an absolute majority,[1] or simple majority, which is more than half of the votes.[3][4]

Systems allowing plurality election are more vulnerable to corruption using the spoiler effect than systems which require a majority.[5]

In British English[edit]

In United Kingdom constituency elections, which typically feature four or more candidates representing major parties, a plurality is sometimes called a majority or a relative majority, while the phrases overall majority or absolute majority are used to describe the support of more than one half of votes cast.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Henry Watson Fowler suggested in 1954: "With three-cornered contests as common as they now are, we may have occasion to find a convenient single word for what we used to call an absolute majority ... In America the word majority itself has that meaning while a poll greater than that of any other candidate, but less than half the votes cast, is called a plurality. It might be useful to borrow this distinction ..." (Fowler, H. W., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford University Press, 1965.)
  2. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th ed., p. 404-405 (RONR)
  3. ^ RONR, p. 400
  4. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about RONR (Question 4)". The Official Robert's Rules of Order Web Site. The Robert's Rules Association. 
  5. ^ Poundstone, William (2008). Gaming the vote: why elections aren't fair (and what we can do about it). Hill and Wang. ISBN 978-0-8090-4893-9.