Anti-plurality voting

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Anti-plurality voting describes an electoral system in which each voter votes against a single candidate, and the candidate with the fewest votes against wins. Anti-plurality voting is an example of a positional voting method.[1][2]


Tennessee and its four major cities: Memphis in the south-west; Nashville in the centre, Chattanooga in the south, and Knoxville in the east

Imagine that Tennessee is having an election on the location of its capital. The population of Tennessee is concentrated around its four major cities, which are spread throughout the state. For this example, suppose that the entire electorate lives in these four cities and that everyone wants to live as near to the capital as possible.

The candidates for the capital are:

  • Memphis, the state's largest city, with 42% of the voters, but located far from the other cities
  • Nashville, with 26% of the voters, near the center of the state
  • Knoxville, with 17% of the voters
  • Chattanooga, with 15% of the voters

The preferences of the voters would be divided like this:

42% of voters
(close to Memphis)
26% of voters
(close to Nashville)
15% of voters
(close to Chattanooga)
17% of voters
(close to Knoxville)
  1. Memphis
  2. Nashville
  3. Chattanooga
  4. Knoxville
  1. Nashville
  2. Chattanooga
  3. Knoxville
  4. Memphis
  1. Chattanooga
  2. Knoxville
  3. Nashville
  4. Memphis
  1. Knoxville
  2. Chattanooga
  3. Nashville
  4. Memphis

In this electoral system, each voter marks a vote against his or her fourth preference. In this case, it would be a tie between Nashville and Chattanooga, both receiving zero votes. If the tie is to be resolved with anti-plurality voting as well, Nashville would win, as it has less second-to-last place votes (32%) than Chattanooga (42%). Ties could also be resolved through a second subsequent runoff election.


As can be seen from the example, in the absence of tactical voting, this system tends to favor middle-of-the-road candidates. However, it is very sensitive to tactical voting, as any candidate perceived beforehand as a potential winner will attract more countervotes from partisans of their opponents. This creates the paradoxical situation for the candidates that, in order to win, you need to appear not to be winning. For this reason, few would advocate this system for general high-stakes use, though for its simplicity it can be useful in specific situations (where voters are not motivated to use tactical voting).

Voting method criteria evaluation[edit]

APV satisfies the monotonicity criterion, the participation criterion and the consistency criterion. It does not satisfy the Condorcet loser criterion, the independence of irrelevant alternatives criterion, the independence of clones criterion or reversal symmetry.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lung, Kelvin T.; Parker, D. Stott (August 2003). "Empirical Comparisons of Various Voting Methods in Bagging" (PDF).
  2. ^ Regenwetter, Michel; Tsetlin, Ilia (June 2004). "Approval voting and positional voting methods: Inference, relationship, examples". IngentaConnect. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2022.