Second Ballot System | Definition, Features, Pros & Cons

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Second Ballot System | Definition, Features, Advantages and Disadvantages

Second Ballot Voting System
Second Ballot System

Definition of Second Ballot System

Second ballot system or Two round system is an election which holds if the first election is unable to produce a decisive winner or a winer with absolute majority.

This system involves two ballots. At the first instance, the successful candidate is required to obtain an absolute majority of the votes cast, that is 50% + 1 – total of (51 percent). If this was not obtained by any of the candidates, a second ballot is held, and those having unacceptable result would be eliminated. The winning candidate is then required to obtain a simple majority.

Features of Second Ballot System

The second ballot has the following features.

  1. A second election is held after the first one has failed to produce a clear winner. It is sometimes called second ballot or run-off election.
  2. The election is usually held few weeks after the first ballot.
  3. The second ballot is used in single-member constituencies.
  4. The system is a formation of the alternative vote system in which a voter is allowed to indicate on his ballot paper his preference among candidates presented for election.
  5. The two candidates with the highest number of votes take part in the  and the winner is the candidate with the larger number of votes.
  6. A second ballot is characterized by a lot of horse-trading and intrigues.

Merits of Second Ballot System

The second ballot system or run-off electoral system has a number of advantages. They are:

  1. It gives minority groups a say in the government, as their votes are very vital to the success of the eventual winner.
  2. The system produces a candidate with the widest support in the constituency or country.
  3. The final choice is made by the mass (electorate, people) and this helps to further the cause of democracy.
  4. Generally, the system produces candidates with the best qualities.

Demerits of Second Ballot System

The disadvantages of the second ballot (two round) system include the following.

  1. The will of the people as manifested in the first election may be perverted. This is because the candidate who has the majority votes in the first election may be defeated in the second ballot.
  2. It is very expensive to run two election within a short period and many developing countries may find it difficult to hear the cost. Example, the December 2000 Presidential elections failed to produce a winner at the first ballot, the government of Ghana had to solicit foreign assistance to conduct the run-off election.
  3. The government produced after the second ballot is essentially a coalition government and may be weakened by the contending interests of the participating parties.
  4. Too many elections tend to overburden the voters.
  5. Corruption is the bane of second ballot as the parties which lost in the first ballot may demand jobs or appointments or even money as a condition for supporting any of the two leading parties.
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