There are two major types of elections. The type a country chooses to practise depends on their constitution and the purpose for which the election is held.
1. Direct Election
This can be defined as a type of election in which the electorate of a country choose and cast their votes directly to select their representatives. Direct election is very democratic in the sense that it allows mass participation in election and gives the citizens a sense of belong as they choose their leaders. Many countries of the world have adopted this system because it creates good relationship between the voters and the elected representatives. Direct election is associated with the principle of one man, one vote, in which every voter has only one vote to cast and each vote is equal to the other.
2. Indirect Election
This refers to the system where the eligible voters select representatives who would make the selection of the leaders on their behalf (i.e. the Electoral College). The people do not vote directly for their representatives. Here, voting is done in stages. The voters elect those who would finally vote for those to represent them. Indirect election was practised in Nigeria in 1977, when the elected councilors in turn, elected the members of constituent assembly. Most countries that operate the parliamentary system of government use the indirect election. For instance, in Britain, the people elect the members of parliament, who will then elect the prime minister on behalf of the people.
Other Types Of Elections
Apart from the two major types of elections discussed above, there are other types of elections. Most of these ones discussed below fall under either direct or indirect election. The type a country operates depends on the purpose of the election and the nature of voters. These include:
It is a type of election that helps to determine or ascertain the opinions of the people on an important national issue. When laws on a constitutional amendment are referred to the electorate for final approval through election, we call it referendum. In this type of election, the electorate is usually made to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For instance, Ireland decided to hold a referendum on divorce. Therefore, we can say that the changes were approved by a referendum.
A vote by the people of a country, state or local government, on an issue that is very important is called a plebiscite. In this type of election, all qualified voters are expected to vote. A plebiscite can be held on the country’s future system of government, creation of more local governments or states.
3. General Election
As the name implies, general election involves all the electorate and covers election of members of both the executive and legislative arms of government. At the same time and at a given date approved by the electoral body, all the political parties vie or contest for election. These elections are held periodically according to the constitution of the country.
4. Primary Election
This is a type of election conducted or held within a political party, to elect candidates who will represent the party in the general election. The candidates are also called flag bearers of the party.
Sometimes, a legislator may die or resign or he may be recalled by his constituencies for wrong doing or non-performance. When this happens, an election will be conducted to fill that vacant seat in the legislature. This type of election is called bye-election.
6. Run-off Election
This is a type of election conducted so that a winner can emerge after the first election has failed to produce a winner. For instance, if two candidates got the same number of votes, a second election called run-off election will be conducted to determine the winner.