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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.


Court Opinion.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
In a plurality system, it is more difficult to have a highly competitive election because the fact is, is that your vote counts only toward your district area.
Although economic success does not depend solely on state institutions, there is evidence that parliamentary-PR systems perform better than plurality systems. The unemployment figures in Table 3 confirm this.
In a two-round system, in which the coordination around two candidates is postponed to the second ballot, the incentives to shift to PR are rather similar to those under the single-member plurality system.
(5) When values for this country were eliminated and the averages recalculated, the results were nearly identical, where SMD Plurality systems had values of 2.49 and 1.96 (ENEP and ENPP respectively) and the PR systems had values of 2.51 and 2.06.
A plurality system does not favor non-territorially based groups such as women.
Cumulative voting is a semi-proportional system because -- as with the plurality systems used in most U.S.
In New Zealand, a majority of voters in the 1993 referendum on electoral reform supported changing from the existing FPP plurality system to the more proportional MMP system.
And just as Cairns predicted, it is the plurality system that has systematically distorted the divisive tensions in the country, particularly with the 1993 federal election results.
The percentage of the population that is black is relatively high in the South, and a black candidate might be able to mobilize a bloc of black votes to win in a plurality system. The requirement of achieving a majority may have been to make it difficult for blacks to win primaries.
With sub-districting ruled out, the only possible remedy, then, would have been for the court to require the replacement of the majority requirement with a plurality system. And that is precisely what the plaintiffs asked the Court to do.
The Lortie Commission, the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, a decade or so ago, specifically decided at the outset to retain the single member district plurality system, or first past the post system, and it did not examine the voting system.
The Cincinnati City Council in December chose to postpone a Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed against the city's use of an at-large plurality system by agreeing to hold a series of public hearings on voting systems and placing their preferred system on the May 4 ballot.