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# 2.3: Plurality

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The voting method we’re most familiar with in the United States is the plurality method.

## Plurality Method

In this method, the choice with the most first-preference votes is declared the winner. Ties are possible, and would have to be settled through some sort of run-off vote.

This method is sometimes mistakenly called the majority method, or “majority rules”, but it is not necessary for a choice to have gained a majority of votes to win. A majority is over 50%; it is possible for a winner to have a plurality without having a majority.

## Example 2

In our election from previous pages, we had the preference table:

$$\begin{array}{|l|l|l|l|l|} \hline & 1 & 3 & 3 & 3 \\ \hline 1^{\text {st }} \text { choice } & \text { A } & \text { A } & \text { O } & \text { H } \\ \hline 2^{\text {nd }} \text { choice } & \text { O } & \text { H } & \text { H } & \text { A } \\ \hline 3^{\text {rd }} \text { choice } & \text { H } & \text { O } & \text { A } & \text { O } \\ \hline \end{array}$$

Solution

For the plurality method, we only care about the first choice options. Totaling them up:

Anaheim: 1+3 = 4 first-choice votes

Anaheim is the winner using the plurality voting method.

Notice that Anaheim won with 4 out of 10 votes, 40% of the votes, which is a plurality of the votes, but not a majority.

## Try it Now 1

Three candidates are running in an election for County Executive: Goings (G), McCarthy (M), and Bunney (B). The voting schedule is shown below. Which candidate wins under the plurality method?

$$\begin{array}{|l|l|l|l|l|} \hline & 44 & 14 & 20 & 70 & 22 & 80 & 39 \\ \hline 1^{\text {st }} \text { choice } & \text { G } & \text { G } & \text { G } & \text { M } & \text { M } & \text { B } & \text { B } \\ \hline 2^{\text {nd }} \text { choice } & \text { M } & \text { B } & \text { } & \text { G } & \text { B } & \text { M } & \text { } \\ \hline 3^{\text {rd }} \text { choice } & \text { B } & \text { M } & \text { } & \text { B } & \text { G } & \text { G } & \text { } \\ \hline \end{array}$$

Note: In the third column and last column, those voters only recorded a first-place vote, so we don’t know who their second and third choices would have been.

Using plurality method:

G gets $$44+14+20 = 78$$ first-choice votes

M gets $$70+22 = 92$$ first-choice votes

B gets $$80+39 = 119$$ first-choice votes

Bunney (B) wins under plurality method.

 This data is loosely based on the 2008 County Executive election in Pierce County, Washington. See www.co.pierce.wa.us/xml/abtus...ec/summary.pdf

2.3: Plurality is shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David Lippman via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.