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Voting is a method for a group such as a meeting or an electorate to make a decision or express an opinion—often following discussions, debates, or election campaigns. It is often found in democracies and republics.


Reasons for voting

In a representative government, 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 (for example, a proposed resolution), a certain candidate, a selection of candidates, or a political party. With a secret ballot to protect voters' political privacy, voting generally takes place at a polling station. The act of voting is voluntary in some countries; whereas some countries, such as Argentina, Australia, Belgium and Brazil, have compulsory voting systems.

Types of votes

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

In a voting system that uses a single vote, the voter selects his or her most preferred candidate. "Plurality voting systems" use single votes.

A development on the single vote system is to have two-round 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 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 but using only a single round of voting.

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