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An electoral district, (election) precinct, election district, or legislative district, called a voting district by the US Census[1] (also known as a constituency, riding, ward, division, 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.

Contents

1 Terminology 2 District
District
magnitude 3 Apportionment and redistricting

3.1 Gerrymandering

4 Swing seats and safe seats 5 Constituency
Constituency
work 6 Special
Special
constituencies with additional membership requirements 7 Voting
Voting
without constituencies 8 See also 9 Notes

Terminology[edit] See also: List of electoral districts by nation 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
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
Hindi
(e.g.-' Lok Sabha
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
Republic of Ireland
voting districts are called "electoral areas". District
District
magnitude[edit] District
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
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 Unreformed House of Commons, Singapore's Group Representation Constituency, or the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

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
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. Apportionment and redistricting[edit]

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[2] while Belgium
Belgium
uses its existing administrative boundaries for electoral districts and instead modifies the number of representatives allotted to each. Israel
Israel
and the Netherlands
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
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 Zurich
Cantonal Council of Zurich
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
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.[citation needed] Gerrymandering[edit] Main article: Gerrymandering Gerrymandering
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
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[edit]

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
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
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
Lok Sabha
(Lower house of The Parliament of India) during the decade of the 1990s. Constituency
Constituency
work[edit] 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
Special
constituencies with additional membership requirements[edit] 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:

By ethnic groups: Communal constituencies
Communal constituencies
in Fiji; reserved seats in India
India
for Anglo-Indians and scheduled castes and scheduled tribes; Māori electorates
Māori electorates
in New Zealand. By qualification: University constituency in Britain and Ireland, functional constituency in Hong Kong

Voting
Voting
without constituencies[edit] 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
Netherlands
have a role in the actual election, but no role whatsoever in the division of the seats. Ukraine
Ukraine
elected half of the Verkhovna Rada
Verkhovna Rada
(the Ukrainian Parliament) in this way in the elections in October 2012.[3] See also[edit]

Politics portal

List of electoral districts by nation

Notes[edit]

^ "Geographic Terms and Concepts - Voting
Voting
Districts". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 23 October 2013.  ^ §5: Establishment of Constituency
Constituency
Commission; Electoral Act, 1997 Irish Statute Book ^ "Parliament Passes Law on Parliamentary Elections", Kyiv Post, 17 November 2011.

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Designations for types of administrative territorial entities

English terms

Common English terms1

Area

Insular area Local government area Protected area Special
Special
area Statistical area

Combined statistical area Metropolitan statistical area Micropolitan statistical area

Urban area

Canton

Half-canton

Borough

County
County
borough Metropolitan borough

Capital

Federal capital Imperial capital

City

City
City
state Autonomous city Charter city Independent city Incorporated city Imperial city Free imperial city Royal free city

Community

Autonomous community Residential community

County

Administrative county Autonomous county Consolidated city-county Metropolitan county

Non-metropolitan

Viscountcy

Country

Overseas country

Department

Overseas department

District

Capital district City
City
district Congressional district Electoral district Federal district Indian government district Land district Metropolitan district

Non-metropolitan district

Military district Municipal district Police district Regional district Rural district Sanitary district Subdistrict Urban district Special
Special
district

Division

Census
Census
division Police division Subdivision

Municipality

City
City
municipality County
County
municipality

Norway Nova Scotia Regional county municipality

Direct-controlled municipality District
District
municipality Mountain resort municipality Neutral municipality Regional municipality Resort municipality Rural municipality Specialized municipality

Prefecture

Autonomous prefecture Subprefecture Super-prefecture Praetorian prefecture

Province

Autonomous province Overseas province Roman province

Region

Administrative region Autonomous region Capital region Development region Economic region Mesoregion Microregion Overseas region Planning region Special
Special
administrative region Statistical region Subregion

Reserve

Biosphere reserve Ecological reserve Game reserve Indian reserve Nature reserve

State

Federal state Free state Sovereign state

Territory

Capital territory

Federal capital territory

Dependent territory Federal territory Military territory Organized incorporated territory Overseas territory Union territory Unorganized territory

Town

Census
Census
town Market town

Township

Charter township Civil township Paper township Survey township Urban township

Unit

Autonomous territorial unit Local administrative unit Municipal unit Regional unit

Zone

Economic zone

Exclusive economic zone Free economic zone Special
Special
economic zone

Free-trade zone Neutral zone Self-administered zone

Other English terms

Current

Alpine resort Bailiwick Banner

Autonomous

Block Cadastre Circle Circuit Colony Commune Condominium Constituency Duchy Eldership Emirate Federal dependency Governorate Hamlet Ilkhanate Indian reservation Manor

Royal

Muftiate Neighbourhood Parish Periphery Precinct Principality Protectorate Quarter Regency Autonomous republic Riding Sector

Autonomous

Shire Sultanate Suzerainty Townland Village

Administrative Summer

Ward

Historical

Agency Barony Burgh Exarchate Hide Hundred Imperial Circle March Monthon Presidency Residency Roman diocese Seat Tenth Tithing

Non-English or loanwords

Current

Amt Bakhsh Barangay Bezirk Regierungsbezirk Comune Frazione Fu Gemeinde Județ Kunta / kommun

Finland Sweden

Län Località Megye Muban Oblast

Autonomous

Okrug Ostān Poblacion Purok Shahrestān Sum Sýsla Tehsil Vingtaine

Historical

Commote Gau Heerlijkheid Köping Maalaiskunta Nome

Egypt Greece

Pagus Pargana Plasă Satrapy Socken Subah Syssel Zhou

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Arabic
Arabic
terms for country subdivisions

First-level

Muhafazah (محافظة governorate) Wilayah (ولاية province) Mintaqah (منطقة region) Mudiriyah (مديرية directorate) Imarah (إمارة emirate) Baladiyah (بلدية municipality) Shabiyah (شعبية "popularate")

Second / third-level

Mintaqah (منطقة region) Qadaa (قضاء district) Nahiyah (ناحية subdistrict) Markaz (مركز district) Mutamadiyah (معتمدية "delegation") Daerah/Daïra (دائرة circle) Liwa (لواء banner / sanjak)

City / township-level

Amanah (أمانة municipality) Baladiyah (بلدية municipality) Ḥai (حي neighborhood / quarter) Mahallah (محلة) Qarya (قرية) Sheyakhah (شياخة "neighborhood subdivision")

English translations given are those most commonly used.

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French terms for country subdivisions

arrondissement département préfecture subprefectures

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Greek terms for country subdivisions

Modern

apokentromenes dioikiseis / geniki dioikisis§ / diamerisma§ / periphereia nomos§ / periphereiaki enotita demos / eparchia§ / koinotita§

Historical

archontia/archontaton bandon demos despotaton dioikesis doukaton droungos eparchia exarchaton katepanikion kephalatikion kleisoura meris naukrareia satrapeia strategis thema toparchia tourma

§ signifies a defunct institution

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Portuguese terms for country subdivisions

Regional subdivisions

Estado Distrito federal Província Região Distrito Comarca Capitania

Local subdivisions

Município Concelho Freguesia Comuna Circunscrição

Settlements

Cidade Vila Aldeia Bairro Lugar

Historical subdivisions in italics.

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Slavic terms for country subdivisions

Current

dzielnica gmina krai kraj krajina / pokrajina městys obec oblast / oblast' / oblasti / oblys / obwód / voblast' okręg okres okrug opština / općina / občina / obshtina osiedle powiat / povit raion selsoviet / silrada sołectwo voivodeship / vojvodina županija

Historical

darugha gromada guberniya / gubernia jurydyka khutor obshchina okolia opole pogost prowincja sorok srez starostwo / starostva uyezd volost ziemia župa

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Spanish terms for country subdivisions

National, Federal

Comunidad autónoma Departamento Distrito federal Estado Provincia Región

Regional, Metropolitan

Cantón Comarca Comuna Corregimiento Delegación Distrito Mancomunidad Merindad Municipalidad Municipio Parroquia

Ecuador Spain

Urban, Rural

Aldea Alquería Anteiglesia Asentamiento

Asentamiento informal Pueblos jóvenes

Barrio Campamento Caserío Ciudad

Ciudad autónoma

Colonia Lugar Masía Pedanía Población Ranchería Sitio Vereda Villa Village
Village
(Pueblito/Pueblo)

Historical subdivisions in italics.

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Turkish terms for country subdivisions

Modern

il (province) ilçe (district) şehir (city) kasaba (town) belediye (municipality) belde (community) köy (village) mahalle (neighbourhood/quarter)

Historical

ağalık (feudal district) bucak (subdistrict) beylerbeylik (province) kadılık (subprovince) kaza (sub-province) hidivlik (viceroyalty) mutasarrıflık (subprovince) nahiye (nahiyah) paşalık (province) reya (Romanian principalities) sancak (prefecture) vilayet (province) voyvodalık (Romanian provinces)

1 Used by ten or more countries or having derived terms. Historical derivations in italics. See also: Census
Census
division, Electoral district, Political division, and List of administrative divisions by country

Authority control

GND: 41889

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