The Alternative Vote is used to elect the majority of chairs of select committees in the House of Commons. The AV is also used for the election of the Lord Speaker and by-elections for hereditary peers.
Under AV, voters rank candidates in order of preference by marking 1, 2, 3 and so on next to names of candidates on a ballot paper. A voter can rank as many or as few candidates as they like or just vote for one candidate.
Ballot papers are then counted by using the first preference votes (i.e. those with a number 1 marked next to their name). If a candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the first preference votes then they are elected.
If no candidate reaches this 50 per cent threshold, then the candidate with the fewest first preference votes is eliminated. Their second preference votes are then reallocated to the remaining candidates. If after this stage one candidate has more votes than the other remaining candidates put together, that candidate is elected.
If not, the process of elimination and reallocation of preference votes is repeated until one candidate has more votes than the other remaining candidates put together, and is then elected.
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