An electoral system or voting system is a method of how elections run – how they are organized. It must set a number of rules. For example, how and where do the voters cast their ballot? The most cardinal aspect is how it will allocate the votes to the candidates. Thus, determining the “winners” of the mandates.
There are several types of electoral systems. An electoral system still varies from country to country. The reason is simple. While two countries use the same system, they allocate the votes differently. The structure of the state also has a lot to do with it. But, the fundament of the system is always the same.
Besides, there are also numerous unique voting systems. The electoral college in the USA or the Papal conclave stands as an example. However, below are the two most common systems. Both of them have several varieties.
This system is most suitable for elections with a lot of available seats. Hence, you can encounter it in elections to the parliament or other representative bodies. Proportionately, the number of won seats is roughly the same as the number of votes – percentage-wise. For example, a party received 20% of the votes. Thus, they will have about 20% of all members of the representative body. It is more representative of the opinions of the public.
Generally, an electoral threshold is in place. This threshold marks a minimum percentage needed to win seats. Besides, it also stops marginal parties from entering the body. Hence, the system is more stable.
In plurality voting, a voter chooses one candidate. The winner gains all seats. Hence, the method is most used when only one seat is available – presidential elections, senate, etc. Further, most countries use a two-round system. Hence, the two candidates with the most votes in the first round move to a second round. That is also called runoff voting.
In the system, the state either all votes for one person (president). Or the state is divided into constituencies. In each constituency, one seat is available (senate).
The system promises stability. Yet, the downside is that it does not represent the general atmosphere of the citizens. Further, a party with fewer votes can win, and it also creates space for gerrymandering.