First-Past-the-Post (FPTP)

This explains elections with Single Member Plurality (SMP) / First Past the Post voting (FPTP), which this project proposes to upgrade to Condorcet/Ranked Pairs.  While FPTP is simple and easy to do, when there are more than two candidates it is prone to significant problems:

© CGP Grey, Youtube
© James Hamblin, Youtube
© CGP Grey, Youtube
  1. Single round of voting:  Each Voter marks a single candidate on a single ballot.
  2. Single round of counting:  The ballots are tallied, allocating votes to candidates based on their single/first-preference choice.
  3. Simple outcome:  The candidate who receives the most votes — wins.
  4. It’s Easy to understand, easy to do, easy to count.


Two CandidatesThree or More Candidates
  • Works well.
  • Chooses the candidate who is preferred by the majority.
  • Tends no longer to render the decision of the majority, but of the largest minority of voters.
  • If their true first preference is not a “likely” contender, voters will tend to shift their vote to one of the presumed contenders (Duverger’s law);  press and opinion polls have an enhanced effect.
  • Hard for smaller, or newer parties, or independents to make headway;  discourages competition.
  • Spoiler Effect:  A candidate seen as similar to another candidate will reduce support from the similar candidate — a candidate who might have won can lose as a consequence of a “similar” candidate entering the competition.
  • Outcome not necessarily most preferred by the majority of voters, and can, in fact, be least preferred.  This is NOT a Condorcet method.
  • Candidates/Parties need only to appeal-to and be accountable-to a small “base”of supporters.

Next: Instant-Runoff Voting (IRV)

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