Referendums are regularly criticised for reducing complex policy decisions to two maximally opposed options. This reduces opportunities for voter expression and can polarise debates. Alternative referendum designs which present more than two ballot options can offer innovative opportunities, but also raise new challenges. We can benefit by learning from previous experiences with multi-option referendum voting. Discussions of such experiences are rare and have often focussed on a limited number of cases. This article provides an overview of over 100 multi-option referendum experiences around the world. It discusses the topics on which they were held and the ballot options that were offered. It then analyses the variety in ballot design in terms of questions posed and voting methods applied. Drawing on the experiences of multi-option referendums, the article concludes with lessons that can be learned in relation to initiating and designing these referendums.
- ballot design
- voting method