In an election, a candidate has a plurality if he/she has more votes than any other candidate. This differs from a majority if there are more than two candidates involved in the election.

For example, if Candidate A has 40% of the vote, Candidate B has 35%, and Candidate C has the remaining 25% of the vote, then Candidate A has a plurality but not a majority. Thus, as theorist Donald Saari puts it, "The plurality vote is the only procedure that will elect someone who's despised by almost two-thirds of the voters."

The most commonly used alternative to a plurality vote (a.k.a. "first past the post") is a runoff election, which eliminates "extra" candidates until one is chosen by a majority.

Plu*ral"i*ty (?), n.; pl. pluralities (#). [L. pluralitas: cf. F. pluralit'e.]

1.

The state of being plural, or consisting of more than one; a number consisting of two or more of the same kind; as, a plurality of worlds; the plurality of a verb.

<-- p. 103 -->

2.

The greater number; a majority; also, the greatest of several numbers; in elections, the excess of the votes given for one candidate over those given for another, or for any other, candidate. When there are more than two candidates, the one who receives the plurality of votes may have less than a majority. See Majority.

Take the plurality of the world, and they are neither wise nor good. L'Estrange.

3. Eccl.

See Plurality of benefices, below.

Plurality of benefices Eccl., the possession by one clergyman of more than one benefice or living. Each benefice thus held is called a plurality. [Eng.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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