Tactical Voting Essay

Tactical voting, also known as strategic voting, is considered the opposite of sincere voting. Tactical voting occurs when voters do not choose their genuinely preferred candidates, but instead vote for their alternative candidates in order to help prevent an undesirable election outcome. In order for voting to be considered tactical, it must meet two conditions. First, a vote must be placed for a candidate other than the preferred choice. Second, the decision to vote strategically must have been reached based on perceptions of the electoral outcome.

There are different types of tactical voting. Compromising involves voting for a candidate, or giving a higher ranking to a candidate, other than one’s preferred choice. The choice is based on the perception that one’s preferred choice will lose anyway, thus resulting in a wasted vote. Compromising often arises in plurality-majority electoral systems. Burying, a technique that often happens in Borda count systems, occurs when a voter ranks a candidate even lower than the actual preference, with the purpose of defeating that candidate. The push-over technique is used when a voter gives a higher rank to a candidate who is perceived to be easily beatable by the preferred candidate in the next round. This occurs most frequently in run-off elections.

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