plurality

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Plurality

The opinion of an appellate court in which more justices join than in any concurring opinion.

The excess of votes cast for one candidate over those votes cast for any other candidate.

Appellate panels are made up of three or more justices. In some cases the justices disagree over the outcome of the case to such an extent that a majority opinion cannot be achieved. (A majority opinion is one in which the number of justices who join is larger than the number of justices who do not.) To resolve such disagreements and reach a final decision, two or more justices publish opinions called concurring opinions, and the other justices decide which of these concurring opinions they will join. The concurring opinion in which more justices join than any other is called a plurality opinion. Plurality decisions can reflect a disagreement among the justices over a legal issue in a case or can reveal deeper ideological differences among the members of the court.

The term plurality is also used to describe the outcome of an election that involves more than two candidates. The candidate who receives the greatest number of votes is said to have received a plurality of the votes. In contrast, the term majority is used to describe the outcome of an election involving only two candidates; the winner is said to have received a majority of the votes.

A candidate who has a plurality of the votes can also have a majority of the votes, but only if she receives a number of votes greater than that cast for all the other candidates combined. Mathematically, a candidate with a plurality has a majority if she receives more than one-half of the total number of votes cast. If candidate John Doe has a plurality, he has earned more votes than any other candidate, but whether he has a majority depends on how many votes he won.

Cross-references

Court Opinion.

plurality

noun advantage in votes cast, bulk, great number, host, large amount, large number, large quantity, lead, main part, majority, multitude, multitudo, preponderancy, shoal, superiority in number, weight of numbers
Associated concepts: majority, quorum
See also: majority, mass, multiplicity, preponderance

PLURALITY, government. The greater number of votes given at an election; it is distinguished from a majority, (q.v.) which is a plurality of all the votes which might have been given; though in common parlance majority is used in the sense here given to plurality.

References in periodicals archive ?
Under proportional representation, competitiveness in elections is not lacking to the same extent as it is in the plurality system.
In Canada, under a plurality system, citizens struggle to find motives to vote creating poor political habits that result in very low turnout.
While an electorally strong and unified opposition is a concern, even when PR rules are used, it is somewhat less of a concern in SMD Plurality systems.
4) Values were calculated using data provided in Mozaffar, Scarritt, and Galaich (2003) from which we calculated the average ENP values for SMD plurality systems and for those countries using some form of PR.
21) This is because under PR rules, small electoral parties have a higher chance of achieving parliamentary representation than in SMD plurality systems, keeping supporters from abandoning their first choice as readily as they would.
Their representatives are elected, as they have always been, by the plurality system.
Proportional representation, on the other hand, may encourage people to vote for small parties that are more likely to gain representation under such a system than under a first-past-the-post plurality system.
Government stability is often assumed to be an effect of the plurality system.
But keeping small parties out of the legislature can serve the interests of large established parties, which is one reason parties in power are often reluctant to tamper with the plurality system that brought them to power.
This is the most convincing defence of the plurality system.
The second ballot system has been criticized for being very disproportional -- even more so than the plurality system -- and expensive and time-consuming to operate.
By returning legislators in rough proportion to parties' share of the popular vote, PR prevents the sort of disproportional, winner-take-all election results that the plurality system allows.