Systems of proportionality
Various forms of proportional representation exist. Below is a descriptive list of the widely used systems of proportionality:
- In a party-list system, the elector votes for a list of candidates instead of for a single candidate. Each party then will receive a share of the seats proportional to the share of votes it received.
- In a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, voters rank their choice of candidates on the ballot instead of voting for just one candidate. It is important to note that this system of proportional representation is not widely practiced throughout the world.
- In an additional-member system, each elector casts two votes instead of one vote. On a double ballot, the elector chooses a candidate and also their party of choice among those listed.
Differences between proportionality and plurality
There are a few apparent differences between a proportional representation system and a plurality system:
- Unlike a plurality system, which uses single-member districts, proportional representation systems use multi-member districts.
- Plurality systems typically reward strong, larger parties while penalizing weak, smaller parties. Also, representation of an entire constituency is for a single candidate who may have received fewer than half of the votes cast. Proportional representation guarantees that smaller parties garner representation that is proportionate to their votes received in an election.
In totality, advocates for proportional representation argue that an election is like a census of opinion as to how the country should be governed and by whom, and critics of proportional representation contend that the purpose of an election is to find a consensus and not a consensus of opinion.
The United States Constitution stipulates proportional representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the United States Constitution, the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are apportioned and based on state population records according to the U.S. Census, which is recorded every ten years.
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- Mount Holyoke.edu, "How Proportional Representation Elections Work"
- Mount Holyoke.edu, "PR books"
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- Mount Holyoke.edu: PR Library, "Proportional Representation Voting Systems," accessed April 29, 2014
- Mount Holyoke.edu: PR Library, "How Proportional Representation Would Finally Solve Our Redistricting and Gerrymandering Problems," accessed April 29, 2014
- U.S. House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives, "Proportional Representation," accessed March 30, 2014