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First past the post voting is a generic term referring to an election determined by the highest polling candidate(s). First-past-the-post voting method although similar in design does not relate solely to Plurality voting.

The term first past the post (abbreviated FPTP or FPP) was coined as an analogy to horse racing, where the winner of the race is the first to pass a particular point on the track.

Confusion in terminology often exists between Highest vote, Majority vote and Plurality voting systems. Each one uses a first-past-the-post voting method but has subtle differences in the method of execution. First-past-the-post voting is also used in two-round voting systems and Exhaustive ballots.

First-past-the-post voting systems involves the placing of a mark (commonly an X or sometimes a tick or other mark) in a box corresponding to a candidate(s) of the voters choice. (In some cases may involve the writing in of the candidates' name)

First-past-the-post voting method can be used for single and multiple member elections. In a single member election the candidate with the highest number, not necessarily a majority, of votes is elected. The Two-round voting system uses a first-past-the-post voting method in each of the two rounds. The first round determining who will progress to the second final round ballot.

In a multiple member first-past-the-post ballot the first number of candidates, in order of highest vote, corresponding to the number of positions to be filled are elected. If there are six vacancies then the first six candidates with the highest vote are elected. A multiple selection ballot where more than one candidate can be voted for is also a form of first-past-the-post voting in which case voters are allowed to cast a vote for as many candidates as there are vacant positions. The candidate(s) with the highest number of votes being elected.

The American Presidential college election uses a from of first-past-the-post voting in electing state representatives. In this system the party/candidate that crosses the line first with the highest vote wins all one hundred percent, winner takes all, of the positions available . Using the analogy of a horse race it is a horse race with a carriage.

First-past-the-post systems are often criticized as being unrepresentative as they do not necessarily represent the choice of a majority of voters only the highest polling candidate(s).

Example

Candidate vote
Candidate A: 25
Candidate B: 22
Candidate C: 21
Candidate D: 18
Candidate E: 14

Under a first past the post voting system the highest polling candidate(s) are elected. Candidate A has 25 votes although there are 75 votes recorded for other candidates. The situation where the highest polling party wins all seats available, as is the case in the American Presidential election system, further distorts the representative value of the first-past-the-post voting system

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