[EM] Re: Voting Systems Study of the League of WomenVoters of Minnesota

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Wed Jun 8 01:54:52 PDT 2005

Abd ulRahman Lomax Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2005 5:01 AM
> Let me make sure I understand. If we had a face-to-face  meeting, and an 
> election was held by show of hands, which is not an uncommon  thing, I've 
> never seen a rule that prevents a person from voting for more  than one 
> candidate. And the winner is the person with the most hands shown. 
> Essentially, approval voting is *standard*.

My experience of face-to-face show of hands voting is limited to meetings in the UK, but I have never ever been present
at such an election in which a voter had more than one vote, ie voter expected (or allowed) to raise his or her hand
once only to vote for only one candidate.  The standard assumption has always been that the election was a
first-past-the-post plurality contest and that the winner would be the candidate with the most votes when each elector
voted for only one candidate.

> The oddity is the practice of 
> discarding ballots which are multiply-marked, as if they were somehow 
> defective. Does anyone know the history of that practice?

For most of last century, most UK single-winner public elections were FPTP simple plurality and to ensure that that
system worked as intended, most ballot papers carried an instruction like "You may vote for one candidate only".  Any
ballot paper marked with more than one "X" was automatically discarded as a "spoilt paper".  This is still the rule in
all our FPTP X-vote single-winner elections.  If three candidates are to be elected by multiple X-vote (first three past
the post), the voter may mark one, two or three Xs, but if the ballot paper has more than three Xs it is automatically
discarded as spoilt.

James Gilmour

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