What is a Plurality Vote? (Overview, Definition, and Examples)

  • By: Adam Wire
  • March 21, 2024
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Regardless of the industry, the goal of the board of directors largely remains to make strategic choices to enhance the financial and operational well-being of the organization. Of course, this is easier said than done. 

While there’s no perfect voting system that suits organizations of all sizes, there’s a reason many boards use plurality voting to affirm their decisions. 

Read on to learn why plurality voting offers an appealing system and discover how to conduct a plurality vote in your organization.

What is a Plurality Vote?

A plurality vote is a voting system in which the candidate or options with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they achieve an absolute majority (i.e., more than 50% of the total votes). In a plurality vote, the winner is simply the candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate, even if their share of the total votes is less than 50%. This system is best used when the team is choosing from among two or more options. 

A plurality vote bears some similarities to a majority vote, but there’s one crucial difference between the two systems: In a majority vote, the winning option must secure at least 50% of the votes to be verified. Majority voting works best when you have an uneven number of board members. Another available technique is unanimous voting, which is when all team members agree on a single option. 

Like all systems, there are pros and cons to using plurality voting. On the plus side, plurality voting offers these benefits:

  • It’s a simple method that is quickly understood by voters
  • It offers a swift resolution to the voting process
  • It doesn’t require repeat voting procedures that could potentially complicate matters
  • Fewer operational and financial resources are needed than other voting systems

Plurality voting does come with a potential disadvantage. As more options are included in the vote, there’s a realistic chance the winning choice will be decided by a lower number of votes and doesn’t fully reflect the sentiment of the board.

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How to Conduct a Plurality Vote

1. Define the Voting Issue

Before you get to the actual plurality vote, the board must first clearly define the issues it plans to vote on.

Voting procedures begin with a director introducing a motion for a specific issue to the board chair, who then puts it forward for the rest of the team. At least one other director must second the motion before it can be discussed by the board. These discussions can provide clarity to the topic and hone in on the most important aspects of the subject. 

Well-written board meeting minutes can also add further context to the conversations by recounting related information from previous meetings and serving as a record of the decision-making process in the future. 

It’s important to conduct all these steps legally and ethically to avoid the risk of team members instigating a vote of no confidence against the highest positions of power. 

2. Establish Voting Eligibility

The next step is to define voting requirements for all stakeholders. In most organizations, directors hold voting rights unless they have a vested interest in the result of the vote. 

These privileges are one of many pieces of information included in the operating agreement of your organization. The document’s main purpose is to create a buffer between the organization and its owners, but it also serves as a way to formalize governance processes around voting, board meetings, and the general structure of management.

Voter eligibility can be further explained by quorums written into organizational bylaws. These clauses demarcate the minimum number of directors needed for an official meeting to take place. The number can be fixed or a representative sample of the group. If the quorum does state a fixed number, it must be big enough to indicate the views of the voting body without being so large that holding meetings becomes difficult.

3. Hold the Vote

Once the voting issues and eligibility have been clarified, the vote can then take place. Most companies announce an official date for when the board can participate in the vote. The date should be recorded and easy to look up for all interested parties in meeting minutes or reports.

The mechanics of the vote also need to be communicated, i.e. if the vote has to be done in-person, online, or can be done in a hybrid format. 

4. Count the Vote

After the vote takes place, they must be counted and recorded by designated team members (usually the board chair).  

Traditional procedures entail a show of hands or a verbal roll call for votes, but some chairs may decide to use modern technologies such as video conferences, teleconferences, or board management software to tally the votes. 

5. Announce the Results

Once the votes have been tallied, the final step is to announce the results to all relevant parties. If there’s a mechanism for changing your mind after a vote takes place, it must be done before the announcement. The results are then documented as part of a board resolution

OnBoard Improves Board Voting

Voting systems play a huge role in shaping the direction of an organization.

What do the most effective boards have in common? Most utilize board management software to streamline the board voting process. OnBoard makes it simple and easy to conduct and manage board votes. 

If you’re considering a board management solution for your organization, we recommend downloading our free guide: Board Management Software Buyer’s Guide. Inside, we give you all the tools and resources needed to find the very best board portal.

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About The Author

Adam Wire
Adam Wire
Adam Wire is a Content Marketing Manager at OnBoard who joined the company in 2021. A Ball State University graduate, Adam worked in various content marketing roles at Angi, USA Football, and Adult & Child Health following a 12-year career in newspapers. His favorite part of the job is problem-solving and helping teammates achieve their goals. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two dogs. He’s an avid sports fan and foodie who also enjoys lawn and yard work and running.