Please note: This text is a shortened version of the German original.
What is Dual Level Voting?
Dual Level Voting (or Dual Voting, for short) is a voting system which perfectly meets the principle of equal votes in a proportional representation system with a threshold. Such thresholds are known in many countries throughout the world, especially in Europe. The allocation effects of Dual Level Voting systems are the same as under the so-called Spare Vote (Ersatzstimme).
The prefix "dual" points to the fact that there are two rounds of voting instead of the one round which is typically for proportional elections. In Dual Level Voting, there is a first ballot in order to identify the political parties which have successfully passed the threshold. These parties participate in a second ballot, the results of which are decisive for the number of seats in parliament.
But unlike in a conventional run-off election, Dual Level Voting combines the two rounds in a single voting (so the term "2in1-Voting" would be an equally suitable name for this voting scheme). First, the voters sign their most favourite party on the ballot paper; this is called their initial vote. Furthermore they set - either explicitly or by implication - a final vote for the second round. How this final vote eventually comes about is explained in the next chapter.
The base model of Dual Level Voting
In the standard version of the Dual Voting system the initial vote is marked on the ballot paper by means of a cross ("X"). In addition, the voters can cast a conditional vote by means of the number "2", which might turn into a valid final vote under certain conditions. The following two cases can occur:
A) The conditional vote is disregarded if the political party which has been voted for in the initial vote actually has passed the threshold. In this case, the final vote automatically counts for the same party as the initial vote, regardless of whether an other party has been marked on the ballot paper with a "2"-sign.
B) If, however, the political party which has been voted for in the initial vote has failed the threshold, then the conditional vote automatically becomes the final vote - provided that a) the ballot paper does contain a conditional vote and that b) the party to which the conditional vote has been attached to is still participating in the second round.
Thus the design of the mechanism gives an incentive to every voter to always vote for the party he or she truly prefers. The enforced coupling of the initial and final votes of those who voted for a party which passed the threshold is fully justified for the reason that an electoral system must demand consistent votings. Because the votes for both rounds are casted simultaneously, there is neither a chance nor a need for the voters to change their mind between the first and the final round. So the electoral system rightly assumes that voters are having - at least for the time being - stable preference frameworks.
It's also this fact which allows one to deduce from two different preference statements ("X" and "2") the unambiguous will of the voter that a conditional vote which in the final round can't become effective in behalf of the most prefered party is meant to automatically count for the next prefered party instead.
For more information, please turn to the German website or write an e-mail to the author:
Contact / legal notice:
Dr. Björn Benken
An der Wabe 5, 38104 Braunschweig, Germany
Tel: +49-531-3789500, firstname.lastname@example.org