Advanced Search
 
The Supplementary Vote
How voting systems work
Supplementary Vote

How does the Supplementary Vote work?


The Supplementary Vote (SV) is a shortened version of the Alternative Vote (AV). Under SV, there are two columns on the ballot paper – one for voters to mark their first choice and one in which to mark a second choice. Voters mark one 'X' in each column, although voters are not required to make a second choice if they do not wish to.

Where is SV used?

All directly elected English mayors, most notably the Mayor of London.

Police and Crime Commisioners in England and Wales

All the first choices are then counted, and if a candidate has a majority, they are elected. If no candidate receives a majority, the top two candidates continue to a second round and all other candidates are eliminated. The second-choice votes of everyone whose first choice has been eliminated are then counted.

Any votes for the remaining candidates are then added to their first-round totals. Whichever candidate has the most votes after these second-preferences have been allocated is declared the winner.


Pros and cons of the Supplementary Vote

The case for

The arguments against

To some extent, SV encourages conciliatory campaigning, as gaining second-preference votes is important.

Unlike the Alternative Vote, SV does not ensure that the winning candidate has the support of at least 50% of the electorate.

It is a relatively simple system to understand.

SV strongly promotes voting for only candidates from the main three parties.

 

If there are more than two strong candidates, voters must guess which two will make the final round, and if they guess incorrectly, their second-preference vote will be wasted. In such circumstances it may even be possible for voters to defeat their preferred candidate

 

The system can lead to a lot of wasted votes as many of the votes cast in the first round end up not transferring and being counted in the second round

 

SV does not eliminate the likelihood of tactical voting.


Other voting systems by type

Proportional Representation
Party List PR
Single Transferable Vote

Mixed Systems 
Additional Member System
Alternative Vote Plus

Majoritarian Systems
Alternative Vote
Block Vote
Borda Count
First Past The Post
Limited Vote
Supplementary Vote
Two-Round System
Recent News
30th January 2015
This is a guest post by Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Simon Thomas, discussing his recent speech on young people and democracy for ERS Cymru. The views, opinions and positions expressed within are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the Electoral Reform Society.   I was 15 when the first referendum on […]
26th January 2015
Much excitement in the European press today as Greece’s left-wing, Eurosceptic and anti-austerity Syriza has come two seats short of an absolute majority in the Greek parliamentary election, allowing them to form a coalition with the right-wing, Eurosceptic Independent Greeks. Yet Syriza won only 36.3% of the vote, giving them 49.7% of the seats. And […]
22nd January 2015
Today’s publication of draft legislation to devolve powers to Scotland makes the case for a UK-wide, citizen-led Constitutional Convention ever more pressing.   All the parties vowed to devolve more powers to Scotland, and no one is suggesting this should be delayed. But ultimately, today’s announcement raises more questions than it answers. These new powers […]