Glossary Term: cumulative voting


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  • cumulative voting

Preferred Definition

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  • Unlike N-of-M voting, cumulative voting allows the voter to allocate more than one vote to a given contest choice. The voter is not obliged to allocate all N votes.


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(Cite sources utilized in defining this term.)

  1. P1622 IEEE Glossary


The ability to allocate other than exactly one vote per contest choice is the distinctive feature of cumulative voting. That should be mentioned in the primary definition and not delegated to the discussion. Also, the number of contest choices (M) and possible support for write-in choices is not central to cumulative voting and are best left out of the primary definition in order to avoid clutter.

Also missing from the primary definition is the notion that cumulative voting is designed and practiced as a multi-winner voting variant and the allowed number of winners is what determines N.

Suggested revised definition: Voting variation to elect N winners in which the voter may allocate up to N votes across the contest choices and is not restricted to allocating just one vote per contest choice.

Suggested revised discussion: One ballot and tabulation style for cumulative voting allows a voter to separately mark a whole number of votes, up to N, for each contest choice, with a restriction that the total number of votes marked in the contest is at most N. This is known as free cumulative voting.

Another ballot and tabulation style for cumulative voting allows a voter to mark each contest choice at most one time, for up to N contest choices. If any contest choices are marked, all N votes are allocated evenly and equally among the marked contest choices, possibly resulting in a fractional number of votes being allocated to each of the marked contest choices. This is known as even and equal cumulative voting. Compared to free cumulative voting, even and equal cumulative voting offers a simpler ballot to the voter but is more restrictive in how a voter may allocate votes to contest choices.

-- David Cary - 2016-11-24

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Topic revision: r3 - 2016-11-24 - DavidCary
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