BBC Home
Explore the BBC


Elections And Voting

Last Updated: Tuesday June 02 2009 16:36 GMT

Other voting systems

Votes being counted

Alternative Vote System

Voters rank candidates in order of preference; first, second, third etc.

People's first choices are counted first, if someone gets more than 50% of the votes, they are elected. If no-one gets 50%, people's second choices are added in. This keeps going until someone gets a majority.

This system is used in Australia.

Single Transferable Vote System

Voters rank candidates in order of preference; first, second, third etc.

The votes are counted until one candidate has reached a certain number of votes (quota). They are elected.

Any other votes for that politician are transferred onto other candidates, following voters' second and third choices etc.

The process continues until the required number of candidates have been elected.

This is used in the Republic of Ireland for large constituencies which may have four or five politicians.

Additional Member System

The first past the post system is used to elect most politicians. A number of seats are left open.

They are filled by candidates to reflect the popularity of political parties. These candidates are chosen from a list.

The list can be open, allowing voters to chose their preferred candidate. The list can be closed, allowing the party to chose the candidate.

This is used for the Welsh Assembly and the Greater London Assembly.

Closed List System

Each political party makes a list of their candidates, ranked in order. People vote for their preferred party. A party that wins, for example, 30 % of the votes gets 30 % of the seats.

They give these seats to their politicians, working their way down the list.

In other words, people vote for a party rather than a politician.

This system is used by many countries in western Europe. It was also used to elect the UK's MEPs in 2004.

Open List System

This is like the closed list system, except that voters can see the list.

They have the choice of voting for a particular party OR a specific politician. In other words, they re-order the party's list.

Supplementary Vote System

Voters make a first and second choice of candidate.

A candidate who gets more than 50% of the votes is elected.

If this does not happen, the 'second choice' votes for the top two candidates are counted. The winner is given the seat.

Guide to Elections And Voting