Electoral district

An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, or electorate, is a territorial subdivision for electing members to a legislative body. Generally, only voters (constituents) who reside within the district are permitted to vote in an election held there. From a single district, a single member or multiple members might be chosen. Members might be chosen by a first-past-the-post system or a proportional representative system, or another voting method entirely. Members might be chosen through a direct election under universal suffrage, an indirect election, or another form of suffrage.


The names for electoral districts vary across countries and, occasionally, for the office being elected. The term constituency is commonly used to refer to an electoral district, especially in British English, but it can also refer to the body of eligible voters or all the residents of the represented area or only those who voted for a certain candidate. The terms (election) precinct and election district are more common in American English. In Australia and New Zealand, electoral districts are called electorates, however elsewhere the term electorate generally refers specifically to the body of voters. In India electoral districts are referred to as "Nirvachan Kshetra" (Hindi: निर्वाचन क्षेत्र) in Hindi, which can be literally translated to English as "electoral area" though the official English translation for the term is "constituency". The term "Nirvachan Kshetra" is used while referring to an electoral district in general irrespective of the legislature. When referring to a particular legislatorial constituency, it is simply referred to as "Kshetra" along with the name of the legislature, in Hindi (e.g.-'Lok Sabha Kshetra' for a Lok Sabha Constituency). Electoral districts for municipal or other local bodies are called "wards". In Canada, districts are colloquially called ridings (stemming from an earlier British geographical subdivision); in French, circonscription or (colloquially) comté, "county." Local electoral districts are sometimes called wards, a term which also designates administrative subdivisions of a municipality. In local government in the Republic of Ireland voting districts are called "electoral areas".

District magnitude

District magnitude is the number of representatives elected from a given district to the same legislative body. A single-member district has one representative, while a multi-member district has more than one. Voting systems that seek proportional representation (such as the single transferable vote) inherently require multi-member districts, and the larger the district magnitude the more proportional a system will tend to be (and the greater the number of distinct parties or choices that can be represented.) Non-proportional systems may use multi-member districts, as in the House of Commons until 1950, Singapore's Group Representation Constituency, or the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Michael Moore LibDem MP Office
Representatives from electoral districts typically have offices in their respective districts. This photo shows the office of Michael Moore, a Member of Parliament (MP) in the UK.

Under proportional representation systems, district magnitude is an important determinant of the makeup of the elected body. With a larger number of winners, candidates are able to represent proportionately smaller minorities; a 10% minority in a given district may secure no seats in a 5-member election but would be guaranteed a seat in a 9-member one because they fulfill a Droop quota.

The geographic distribution of minorities also affects their representation - an unpopular nationwide minority can still secure a seat if they are concentrated in a particular district. District magnitude can sometimes vary within the same system during an election. In the Republic of Ireland, for instance, national elections to Dáil Éireann are held using a combination of 3, 4, and 5 member districts. In Hong Kong, the magnitude ranged from 3 to 5 in 1998, when the current electoral system was introduced for Legislative Council geographical constituency elections, and will range from 5 to 9 in the forthcoming election in September 2012.

The only democracies with one single nationwide electoral district and no other territorial correctors are Fiji, Israel, The Netherlands, Moldova, Mozambique, Slovakia, South Africa and Serbia.

Apportionment and redistricting

Main articles: Apportionment and Redistricting

Apportionment is the process of allocating a number of representatives to different regions, such as states or provinces. Apportionment changes are often accompanied by redistricting, the redrawing of electoral district boundaries to accommodate the new number of representatives. This redrawing is necessary under single-member district systems, as each new representative requires their own district. Multi-member systems, however, vary depending on other rules. Ireland, for example, redraws its electoral districts after every census[1] while Belgium uses its existing administrative boundaries for electoral districts and instead modifies the number of representatives allotted to each. Israel and the Netherlands avoid the need for apportionment entirely by electing legislators at-large.

Apportionment is generally done on the basis of population. Seats in the United States House of Representatives, for instance, are reapportioned to individual states every 10 years following a census, with some states that have grown in population gaining seats. By contrast, seats in the Cantonal Council of Zürich are reapportioned in every election based on the number of votes cast in each district, which is only made possible by use of multi-member districts, and the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, by contrast, is apportioned without regard to population; the three major ethnic groups - Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats - each get exactly five members. Malapportionment occurs when voters are under- or over-represented due to variation in district population.

Given the complexity of this process, software is increasingly used to simplify the task, while better supporting reproducible and more justifiable results.


Gerrymandering is the manipulation of electoral district boundaries for political gain. By creating a few "forfeit" districts where opposing candidates win overwhelmingly, gerrymandering politicians can manufacture more, but narrower, wins for themselves and their party. Gerrymandering relies on the wasted-vote effect, effectively concentrating wasted votes among opponents while minimizing wasted votes among supporters. Consequently, gerrymandering is typically done under voting systems using single-member districts, which have more wasted votes.

While much more difficult, gerrymandering can also be done under proportional-voting systems when districts elect very few seats. By making three-member districts in regions where a particular group has a slight majority, for instance, gerrymandering politicians can obtain 2/3 of that district's seats. Similarly, by making four-member districts in regions where the same group has slightly less than a majority, gerrymandering politicians can still secure exactly half of the seats.

However, any possible gerrymandering that theoretically could occur would be much less effective because minority groups can still elect at least one representative if they make up a significant percentage of the population (e.g. 20-25%). Compare this to single-member districts where 40-49% of the voters can be essentially shut out from any representation.

Swing seats and safe seats

Main articles: Marginal seat and Safe seat

Sometimes, particularly under non-proportional winner-take-all voting systems, electoral districts can be prone to landslide victories. A safe seat is one that is very unlikely to be won by a rival politician due to the makeup of its constituency. Conversely, a swing seat is one that could easily swing either way. In United Kingdom general elections and United States presidential and congressional elections, the voting in a relatively small number of swing seats usually determines the outcome of the entire election. Many politicians aspire to have safe seats. In large multi-party systems like India, swing seats can lead to a Hung assembly like situation if a significant number of seats go for regional parties instead of the larger national parties who are the main competitors at the national or state level, as was the situation in the Lok Sabha (Lower house of The Parliament of India) during the decade of the 1990s.

Constituency work

Elected representatives may spend much of the time serving the needs or demands of individual constituents, meaning either voters or residents of their district. This is more common in assemblies with many single-member or small districts than those with fewer, larger districts. In a looser sense, corporations and other such organizations can be referred to as constituents, if they have a significant presence in an area.

Many assemblies allow free postage (through franking privilege or prepaid envelopes) from a representative to a constituent, and often free telecommunications. Caseworkers may be employed by representatives to assist constituents with problems. Members of the U.S. Congress (both Representatives and Senators) working in Washington, D.C. have a governmentally staffed district office to aid in "constituent services". Many state legislatures have followed suit. Likewise, British MPs use their Parliamentary staffing allowance to appoint staff for "constituency casework". Client politics and pork barrel politics are associated with constituency work.

Special constituencies with additional membership requirements

In some elected assemblies, some or all constituencies may group voters based on some criterion other than, or in addition to, the location they live. Examples include:

Voting without constituencies

Not all democratic political systems use separate districts or other electoral subdivisions to conduct elections. Israel, for instance, conducts parliamentary elections as a single district, while the 26 electoral districts in Italy and the 20 in the Netherlands have a role in the actual election, but no role whatsoever in the division of the seats. Ukraine elected half of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) in this way in the elections in October 2012.[2]

See also


  1. ^ §5: Establishment of Constituency Commission; Electoral Act, 1997 Irish Statute Book
  2. ^ "Parliament Passes Law on Parliamentary Elections", Kyiv Post, 17 November 2011.
Electoral district (Canada)

An electoral district in Canada, also known as a "constituency" or a "riding", is a geographical constituency upon which Canada's representative democracy is based. It is officially known in Canadian French as a circonscription, but frequently called a comté (county).

Each federal electoral district returns one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of Canada; each provincial or territorial electoral district returns one representative—called, depending on the province or territory, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), Member of the National Assembly (MNA), Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) or Member of the House of Assembly (MHA)—to the provincial or territorial legislature.

While electoral districts at both the federal and provincial levels are now exclusively single-member districts, multiple-member districts have been used in the past. Alberta has had a few districts that returned from two to seven members: see Calgary, Edmonton and Medicine Hat. British Columbia had a mix of multiple-member districts and single-member districts at the provincial level until the 1991 election, and Prince Edward Island had dual-member districts at the provincial level until the 1996 election.

Since 2015 there have been 338 federal electoral districts in Canada.

In provincial and territorial legislatures, the provinces and territories each set their own number of electoral districts independently of their federal representation; although the province of Ontario currently defines most, but not all, of its provincial electoral districts to align with federal boundaries, no other province does so, and even Ontario maintains a few variances from federal boundaries.

Elections Canada is the independent body set up by Parliament to oversee Canadian federal elections, while each province and territory has its own separate elections agency to oversee the provincial and territorial elections.

Electoral district of Barwon

Barwon is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of New South Wales. It is represented by Roy Butler of the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party.

Covering roughly 44% of the land mass of New South Wales, Barwon is by far the state's largest electoral district. It includes the local government areas of Bourke Shire, Brewarrina Shire, Narrabri Shire, Walgett Shire, Warrumbungle Shire, Coonamble Shire, Gilgandra Shire, Warren Shire, Bogan Shire, Lachlan Shire, Cobar Shire, Central Darling Shire, the City of Broken Hill as well as the large Unincorporated Far West Region surrounding Broken Hill.

Electoral district of Benambra

The electoral district of Benambra is one of the electoral districts of Victoria, Australia, for the Victorian Legislative Assembly. It covers an area of 10,037 square kilometres (3,875 sq mi) in north-eastern Victoria, and includes the towns of Baranduda, Barnawartha, Beechworth, Chiltern, Corryong, Eskdale, Kiewa, Mitta Mitta, Mount Beauty, Rutherglen, Tallangatta, Tangambalanga, Tawonga, Wahgunyah, Wodonga and Yackandandah. It lies in the Northern Victoria Region of the upper house, the Legislative Council.The district of Benambra was created by the Electoral Act Amendment Act 1876. taking effect at the 1877 elections.

The district has been held by various conservative parties unbroken since 1877, with the Liberal Party taking the seat from the Nationals in 1976 and retaining it since.

Electoral district of Burdekin

Burdekin is an electoral district in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland in the state of Queensland, Australia. Centred on the Ayr–Home Hill region, the electorate also includes some of Townsville's southern suburbs (Stuart, Wulguru and Annandale) as well as the coal-mining town of Collinsville. The Burdekin River flows through part of the electorate.

Electoral district of Cook

Cook is an electoral district in Queensland, Australia.

Cook covers the vast Cape York Peninsula north of Cairns, including the resort town of Port Douglas and the Torres Strait Islands. It is named after British navigator James Cook, who charted the coast and landed on Possession Island – one of the Torres Strait islands – in 1770.

Electoral district of Gregory

Gregory is a Legislative Assembly of Queensland electoral district in Queensland, Australia.

Electoral district of Ipswich

Ipswich is a Legislative Assembly of Queensland electoral district on the Brisbane River, west of Brisbane in the Australian state of Queensland. The electorate includes Ipswich and its suburbs, south and east of the Bremer River, west of Bundamba Creek and north of the Cunningham Highway.

Electoral district of Melbourne

The electoral district of Melbourne is an electorate of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. It currently includes the localities of Carlton, North Carlton, Melbourne, East Melbourne, West Melbourne, North Melbourne, Parkville, Newmarket, Kensington and Flemington, and includes Melbourne University. The district has been in existence since 1856 (it was abolished in 1859 and reestablished in 1889).

The electorate was won in 2014 for the first time by Greens candidate Ellen Sandell.

Electoral district of Mildura

Mildura is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of Victoria and sits within the Northern Victoria electorate. It is a 35,702 km² rural electorate in the far-north-west of the state, encompassing the regional towns of Hopetoun, Mildura, Ouyen, Red Cliffs and Robinvale. It is currently represented by independent Ali Cupper.

Mildura was first proclaimed in 1927 and was, for most of its history, a safe seat for the rural conservative Country Party, excluding two terms of Labor control from 1945 to 1947 and 1952–1955. In 1988, however, it became one of a number of rural seats to fall to the Liberal Party, with journalist Craig Bildstien winning the seat on Labor preferences. Bildstien held the seat for eight years before a surprise loss in 1996 to conservative independent Russell Savage. Savage was twice re-elected with large margins, but was a widely unexpected casualty of the 2006 election, losing his seat to the National Party's Peter Crisp in a landslide.

Crisp retained the seat in 2010 and 2014, only to be swept out in a shock defeat by Cupper, only the fourth time that the seat has not been held by a conservative party.

Towns within the district include: Birchip, Boundary Bend, Hopetoun, Irymple, Manangatang, Merbein, Mildura, Murrayville, Ouyen, Patchewollock, Piangil, Red Cliffs, Robinvale, Sea Lake, Walpeup, Woomelang and Wycheproof.

Electoral district of Mirani

Mirani is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of Queensland. It is represented by Stephen Andrew, of Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

It covers much of the Queensland coast between the cities of Rockhampton and Mackay, as well as the hinterland west of Mackay. Towns include St Lawrence, Carmila, Sarina, and Eungella. The district is named after the town of Mirani.

Mirani was historically a safely conservative seat, and was held by the Country Party and its successors the National Party and Liberal National Party from 1947 to 2015. A redistribution in 2008 made Mirani a notionally Labor held seat with a 1.2% margin, but veteran incumbent Ted Malone achieved a swing strong enough to retain this seat at the 2009 election. Malone retired at the 2015 state election, at which Jim Pearce, formerly Labor member for abolished Fitzroy from 1989 to 2009, became only the second Labor member ever to win Mirani.

Pearce was subsequently defeated at the 2017 election by Stephen Andrew, of Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

Electoral district of Monaro

Monaro, briefly known as Maneroo, is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of New South Wales. It is represented by John Barilaro of The Nationals.

Monaro is a regional district in the south of the state. It encompasses the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council and Snowy Monaro Regional Council. Its significant population centres include Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Braidwood, Cooma, Bombala, Captains Flat, Nimmitabel, Bredbo, Michelago, Berridale, Jindabyne and Adaminaby.

Electoral district of Oxley

Oxley is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of New South Wales.

Electoral district of Rockhampton

Rockhampton is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of Queensland.

Wedged between the electoral districts of Keppel to the east and Mirani to the west, Rockhampton encompasses the bulk of the regional city of Rockhampton and many of its outlying developed areas, including the community of Gracemere.

Electoral district of Townsville

Townsville is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of Queensland. The seat is one of four within the Townsville urban area in North Queensland, and covers the Eastern and Northern suburbs of the City of Townsville as well as Magnetic Island and Palm Island.Significant features in Townsville within the electorate are; The Strand, the Port of Townsville, Townsville Airport, RAAF Garbutt, Castle Hill, Museum of Tropical Queensland, Reef HQ, various administrative centres for Local, State and federal Governments. Suburbs of Townsville within the Electorate include; Townsville, North Ward, Castle Hill, Belgian Gardens, West End, Hyde Park, Garbutt, Mount Louisa, Currajong, Railway Estate, South Townsville, Rowes Bay, Bohle and Pallarenda. Two populated islands fall within the electorate; Magnetic Island and Palm Island, each have about 2500 residents, 93% of Palm Island's inhabitants are Indigenous.This State electorate falls completely within the eastern portion of the Federal Division of Herbert. It encompasses the local government areas of Palm Island and parts of Townsville.

Townsville Electorate is bordered by the Hinchinbrook (North), Burdekin (South), Mundingburra (South and West) and Thuringowa (West) Electorates.

Electoral district of Warrego

Warrego is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of Queensland.

The electorate lies in the extreme southwest of Queensland, running along the western part of the border with New South Wales. It includes a number of rural centres, including the towns of Roma, St George and Cunnamulla.

Electoral districts of Victoria

For the purpose of electing members of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, one of the two houses of the Parliament of the Australian State of Victoria, the State is divided into 88 single-member electoral districts, commonly referred to as "seats" or "electorates". The Legislative Assembly has had 88 electorates since the 1985 election, increased from 81 previously.

Electoral boundaries were last redrawn in 2013, when the Victorian Electoral Boundaries Commission reviewed Victoria's district boundaries, and the resulting redistribution applied at the 2014 and the 2018 state elections. Previous redistributions for Legislative Assembly districts took place in 2005, 2001 and 1991. The next redivision of State electoral boundaries will take place in 2020-2021.

Electorates of the Australian states and territories

A State Electoral District is an electorate within the Lower House or Legislative Assembly of Australian states and territories. Most state electoral districts (except the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, which have multi-member electorates using a proportional voting method) send a single member to a state or territory's parliament using the preferential method of voting. The area of a state electoral district is dependent upon the Electoral Acts in the various states and vary in area between them. At present, there are 409 state electoral districts in Australia.

State electoral districts do not apply to the Upper House, or Legislative Council, in those states that have one (New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia). In New South Wales and South Australia, MLCs represent the entire state, in Tasmania they represent single-member districts, and in Victoria and Western Australia they represent a region formed by grouping electoral districts together.

Kocaeli Province

Kocaeli Province (Turkish: Kocaeli ili, pronounced [koˈdʒaeli]) is a province of Turkey and one of only two to not have the same official name as its capital, İzmit, which is thus also sometimes called Kocaeli. The province is the successor of the Ottoman-era Sanjak of Kocaeli. The largest towns in the province are İzmit and Gebze. The traffic code is 41. The province is located at the easternmost end of the Marmara Sea around the Gulf of İzmit. Kocaeli is bordered by the province of Istanbul and the Marmara Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north, the province of Sakarya to the east, the province of Bursa to the south and the province of Yalova to the southwest. The metropolitan area of Istanbul extends to the Kocaeli-Istanbul provincial border. The size and natural conditions of the Bay of İzmit allow for extensive port facilities, including the Gölcük Naval Base. The province is called the industrial capital of Turkey. Kocaeli has an airport named Cengiz Topel Naval Air Station which is used for military and civilian transport. Kocaeli has two universities: Kocaeli University and Gebze Technical University.

Designations for types of administrative territorial entities

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