Electoral system design should take into account the needs and facilitate participation and representation of vulnerable groups, including of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities.
- Special measures were taken to ensure de facto equality for people with disabilities
- Special measures were taken, as necessary, to promote equality for minorities
- The state took steps to ensure de facto equality between men and women
- The electoral system did not discriminate against citizens on grounds prohibited by international law
- The legal framework for elections did not include provisions that discriminate on the basis of prohibited grounds
- In most cases, those majoritarian systems that are based on single-seat electoral districts will only be advantageous for minority representation in states where minorities are concentrated territorially. (…) If a national minority community is dispersed throughout the state, it would not necessarily be ensured representation because there may not be sufficient votes to ensure a national-minority winner in any of the single-seat districts.
- The representation of a sizable concentrated national minority achieved in a single-seat district may prove to be less than the representation that would be achieved under a proportional system, as majoritarian candidates may receive more votes than are necessary to win seats.
- There are also implications for national minorities in the choice between FPTP and majority systems. In a FPTP system, there is no incentive to seek votes across constituencies if the national minority represents the largest percentage of voters but not the majority. In a majority system, there could be an incentive to seek votes outside the national minority in order to acquire the required majority.
- Proportional systems produce results more representative of different opinions, including those of national minorities.
- Electoral systems that provide the possibility of preferential voting, such as AV and STV systems, enable voters to indicate how they would vote if their preferred candidate lost, by indicating second, third and subsequent choices.
- While the principle of one person, one vote is one of the most fundamental rules of democratic electoral systems, in some cases a dual voting system can be used to promote representation of minority communities.
- According to a study by the Venice Commission, dual voting is an exceptional measure that has to be within the legal framework of the constitution and may be permitted if it respects the principle of proportionality in its various aspects. This implies that it can only be justified if: - It is impossible to reach the aim pursued through other less intrusive measures that do not infringe upon equal voting rights; - It has a transitional character; and - It concerns only a numerically small minority.
- If there is the political will to ensure the representation of such minorities, this can be achieved by introducing special measures through reserved seats. Reserved seats are contested within a minority community and filled by people representing minority communities.
- By Governments: (…) (d) Review the differential impact of electoral systems on the political representation of women in elected bodies and consider, where appropriate, the adjustment or reform of those systems.
- In addition to the advantages attached to PR systems generally, List PR makes it more likely that the representatives of minority cultures/groups will be elected. When, as is often the case, voting behaviour dovetails with a society’s cultural or social divisions, then List PR electoral systems can help to ensure that the legislature includes members of both majority and minority groups.
- PR electoral systems are almost always more friendly to the election of women than plurality/majority systems. In essence, parties are able to use the lists to promote the advancement of women politicians and allow voters the space to elect women candidates while still basing their choice on other policy concerns than gender. As noted above, in single-member districts most parties are encouraged to put up a ‘most broadly acceptable’ candidate, and that person is seldom a woman.
- Again, electoral systems which use reasonably large district magnitudes encourage parties to nominate candidates from minorities on the basis that balanced tickets will increase their electoral chances. A very low threshold, or the complete elimination of a formal threshold, in PR systems can also facilitate the representation of hitherto under-represented or unrepresented groups. In plurality/ majority systems in particular, seats are sometimes set aside in the legislature for minorities and communal groups.
- Wherever possible, whether in divided or relatively homogeneous societies, the electoral system should err on the side of including all significant interests in the legislature. Regardless of whether minorities are based on ideological, ethnic, racial, linguistic, regional or religious identities, the exclusion of significant shades of opinion from legislatures, particularly in the developing world, has often been catastrophically counterproductive.