Simple majority

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A simple majority, in American parlance, simply means more than half of the valid votes cast. In countries other than the U.S., it means what in American usage is called a plurality, though this meaning is giving way to the American one in English-speaking countries, especially Canada. This article deals with the term in its American usage.

[edit] Comparison with other terms

A simple majority does not include abstentions or absent members. It is more strict than a plurality vote, but less strict than an absolute majority vote (which in countries other than the U.S. still simply means more than half, though the simpler American term "majority" is becoming increasingly popular). It is the most common requirement in voting for a measure to pass, especially in deliberative bodies and small organizations. In parliamentary procedure, the unqualified term "majority" has this meaning, and the usage "simple majority" is discouraged.

[edit] Examples

Consider three propositions: A, B, and C, that are proposed in a club of 100 members. In order for a proposition to be successful, a simple majority must agree to it. The results of the election are:

  • 20 votes for proposition A
  • 40 votes for proposition B
  • 10 votes for proposition C
  • 10 votes are blank

Since there are more votes for B than there are votes for both A and C combined, B has the simple majority, and so wins. That is, the votes for B make up more that 50% of the total counted votes (70). If all the votes were considered, including the 10 blank votes, as in an absolute majority vote, then B would not have a majority. Abstentions and non-voters do not affect a simple majority process, since they neither support nor oppose. They affect only an absolute majority.

In an election for president in the same club having candidates Jim, Bob, Sally, and Bridget, the results are as follows:

  • 20 votes for Jim
  • 20 votes for Bob
  • 40 votes for Sally
  • 2 votes for Bridget

In this election, no one has more votes than the combined votes of the opponents, so no one wins. Sally's 40 votes do not make up more than 50% of the total number of votes. In a case like this, most systems would either adopt a plurality rule or would have a second ballot with all of the candidates present, unless the organization's bylaws specify otherwise (as is commonly done to create a runoff election).

Tie votes do not meet simple majority because not more than half of the votes cast approve, so ties are classfied as failures.


[edit] See also

Simple majority

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