Preferential Voting: Definition and Classification

  • Jurij Toplak University of Maribor, Faculty of Law
Keywords: electoral systems, preferential voting, intraparty preference, degree of preferentiality, ranking methods


There is no single definition for ‘preferential voting’ or ‘preference voting’ since the terms are used for a number of different election systems and groups of such systems. They can be synonymous with the single-transferable vote, the alternative vote, open-list proportional representation, or the group of all ranking methods. This article offers an overview of the various definitions and classifications of preferential voting and other terms used in the literature to describe it. It proposes a common understanding of preferential voting. I suggest that preferentiality ought to be one of the characteristics by which electoral systems are evaluated. All election systems are preferential, though to varying degrees. I offer a classification of numerous electoral schemes according to their preferentiality.

Author Biography

Jurij Toplak, University of Maribor, Faculty of Law

Associate Professor


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