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Alternative Voting Methods in the United States

Tuesday, April 04, 2023


grid of 16 blue and red check marks is centered at the top of the graphic. The text below is in red and reads "Alternative Voting Methods in the United States." Below that centered is the EAC seal. Alternative Voting Methods in the United States (Full PDF version)

In the United States, elections are administered at the state and local level. While election procedures vary among jurisdictions, voters typically must select a single candidate in each race. Then, the candidate who receives a plurality of the votes — more votes than any other candidate in the race — is the winner.

This method of single-winner, plurality voting is common, but it is not constitutionally required. State constitutions may address voting methods or be silent on the options available in the jurisdiction. Throughout American history, some jurisdictions have experimented with other ways of voting. Although the terminology has evolved over time, voting methods that differ from the traditional plurality system are commonly referred to as alternative voting methods.

This document provides information on the use of alternative voting methods across the country, including the different methods that are currently being considered or used, the ways that alternative voting methods may be adopted, special uses for alternative voting methods, administrative considerations, and case studies of jurisdictions that have conducted elections using alternative voting methods. 

Sections include:

  • Alternative Voting Methods
  • Special Uses and Applications
  • Ways to Adopt
  • Administration Considerations