Plural voting

Plural voting is the practice whereby one person might be able to vote multiple times in an election. It is not to be confused with a plurality voting system which does not necessarily involve plural voting. Weighted voting is a generalisation of plural voting.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, for example, up to 1948, people affiliated with a university were allowed a vote in both a university constituency and their home constituency, and property owners could vote both in the constituency where their property lay and that in which they lived, if the two were different. Some university-educated property owners could even vote in three different constituencies. After 1910, the Liberal Government was intent on passing a Plural Voting Bill that sought to prevent electors who appeared on the electoral register more than once from voting more than once. Liberal and Unionist Headquarters were in agreement that 29 seats were won by Unionists in December 1910 because of plural voting.[1] However, before the bill could pass through parliament, the Great War started and the bill was shelved. These practices were finally abolished by the Representation of the People Act 1948, which first applied in the 1950 General Election.

Northern Ireland

Before the Electoral Act of 1968-9, local government elections in Northern Ireland allowed owners of businesses to cast more than one vote. Tim Pat Coogan wrote on this subject:

Limited companies and occupiers of premises with a rateable valuation of £10 could appoint nominees - as could companies for each £10 of their valuations - under a system of plural voting, which even allowed such votes to be case in another constituency...[2]


In Belgium, plural voting was introduced in 1893 and applied for elections from 1894 to 1919 as a way to limit the impact of universal suffrage.

Every male citizen over 25 got one vote for legislative elections, but some electors got up to 2 supplementary votes according to some criteria:[3][4]

For municipal elections, a fourth vote was granted to family heads who paid a fixed level of electoral tax, or whose cadastral income was at least of 150 francs.

New Zealand

Plural voting, also referred to as "Dual Voting", was abolished in New Zealand in 1889. It was previously available to certain male property owners.[5]

Parental vote

It has been proposed that a parent should get a vote for each dependent child, to increase the birth rate or to increase the importance of long-term planning as an election issue. This was proposed in France in 1871 by Louis Henri de Gueydon;[6] in the UK in 2003 by Demos,[7] and in 2007 by Dutch economist Lans Bovenberg.[8] It is a policy of the Christian Party of Austria.

See also


  1. Lloyd George, Liberalism and the land by Ian Packer
  2. Tim Pat, Coogan (1987). "16". The IRA (12 ed.). Glasgow: William Collins Sons & Ltd. p. 442. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  3. L'évolution du droit de vote, (official Belgian Portal)
  4. Marie-Thérèse Bitsch, Histoire de la Belgique de l'Antiquité à nos jours, Bruxelles, Editions Complexe, 2004, ISBN 2-8048-0023-7
  5. "Key dates in New Zealand electoral reform". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  6. Laut, Ernest (9 September 1903). "The depopulation hydra; Why the birth rate has fallen in France". Boston Evening Transcript. p. 16. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  7. "Should parents get more than one vote?". BBC News. 10 February 2003. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  8. Bovenberg, Arji Lans (2007). "Grey new world: Europe on the road to gerontocracy? Introduction" (PDF). CESifo Forum. CESifo Group (3 Europe and the demographic challenge): 22. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
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