In this post, we shall look into the simple majority voting system. At the end of this lesson, students should be able to:
- understand the simple majority voting system;
- highlight its advantages; and
- mention its disadvantages.
The Simple Majority System of Voting
The simple majority system of voting, also known as “first-past-the-post,” is a widely used electoral system where the candidate who receives the most votes wins the election, regardless of whether or not they obtain an absolute majority (i.e., more than 50% of the total votes).
In an election where Candidate A has 3½ votes out of 10 votes, Candidate B has 2½ votes, Candidate C has 2 votes, and Candidates D has 2 votes; Candidate A will be declared the winner of the election straightaway in the simple majority voting system, even though he has far less than the total losing votes (6½ votes).
This system is commonly employed in many democratic countries for various elections, such as parliamentary and congressional elections. It is used in Nigerian elections.
Advantages of the Simple Majority System of Voting
- Simplicity: The system is straightforward to operate, making it easy to ascertain election results quickly and efficiently.
- Discourages Coalition Governments: The simple majority system tends to discourage the formation of coalition governments, as winning candidates can secure a majority of seats without the need for alliances with other parties.
- Accountability: Elected candidates are directly accountable to their constituents, as they need to secure the majority of votes in their respective constituencies to win.
- Cost-Effective: The system is economical to operate since it requires minimal administrative effort and resources compared to more complex voting systems.
- Stability: The system often leads to the emergence of a stable government, as a majority of seats are won by a single party or candidate, facilitating the implementation of policies.
Disadvantages of the Simple Majority System of Voting
- Potential Lack of Democratic Representation: In some cases, the system can be considered undemocratic because it neglects the wishes of the majority of voters. Votes for losing candidates do not contribute to the final outcome, leading to wasted votes and potentially skewed representation.
- Exploitation of Majority Ethnic Groups: Majority ethnic groups may use their numerical advantage to secure a simple majority, potentially sidelining the interests of minority groups.
- Election Rigging: The simplicity of the system can encourage election rigging or strategic voting in an attempt to secure the highest number of votes, which may compromise the integrity of the electoral process.
- Gerrymandering: The simple majority system can lead to gerrymandering, a practice where electoral boundaries are manipulated to favour a particular party or group, undermining the fairness of the election.