Tactical voting happens when a person votes for someone other than their favorite candidate in a way to either help their favorite or achieve some other goal. This may happen in national or local elections, or even in elections for clubs and homeowner associations.
Examples[change | change source]
Say 5 people are running as candidates for board members, but only 3 will be elected. For the following situations except the last, let's say you get 1 vote.
- Your favorite is almost guaranteed to win a seat on the board, so you may choose to vote for your second favorite candidate to help him out. That gives your two favorites a better chance of winning.
- Your favorite is almost guaranteed to lose, so you may choose to vote for your second favorite candidate to help him out. That gives your second choice a chance of winning even though your favorite may lose.
- Your favorite is uncertain to win, so you may choose to vote for a stronger candidate, rather than see someone else win.
- Say you get to vote for 3 candidates and your favorite is in the middle of the pack. You may choose to vote only for your favorite and not use your other 2 votes so that your favorite faces less competition.
Another common situation happens in primary elections, where members of one party may temporarily 'cross over' to the other party to support a candidate who is getting less votes, hoping their favorite will face weak competition in the main election. This type of negative voting is popular but often considered unethical.
Ethics[change | change source]
Many experts question tactical voting in that it can undermine a democratic outcome. That is, ethical voters may believe it more important how a candidate wins than who wins. Others feel the end justifies the means. Most researchers tend to frown on tactical voting.
Resources[change | change source]
- Cox, Gary (1997). Making Votes Count. Cambridge University Press. pp. 340.
- Svensson, Lars-Gunnar (1999). The Proof of the Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem Revisited
- The Science of Elections, Brams, Herschbach Science Online (2001). Abstract
Other websites[change | change source]
- Tactical Voting Can Be a Weak Strategy -- Article on tactical voting within larger strategic considerations [archived]
- VotePair.org VotePair is a banding together of the people who started tactical voting online in the 2000 US elections
- Voting methods page Includes extensive discussion of strategic voting in a wide range of real and theoretical voting systems