There are two types of traditional methods for online elections. The first is for electing a single candidate, and the second is for electing a group of candidates (such as a committee or council).
This is the most common type of voting. Each voter selects one candidate, and the candidate with the largest number of votes is the winner. This method is known as plurality voting, first past the post (FPTP), and the single non-transferable vote (SNTV) (in contrast to other methods available at OpaVote that allow votes to be transferred).
Although commonly used, this is not a good method for counting votes. When there are more than two candidates, the winner of the election may have much less than a majority of votes, and other counting methods below will generally provide a better result. For example, FairVote has a comparison of plurality voting and instant runoff voting.
This method can be used to elect a council or committee. Suppose a committee of four is to be elected. Each voter selects up to four candidates, and the four candidates receiving the largest number of votes are the winners. This method is known as plurality at large voting, block (or bloc) voting, and the multiple non-transferable vote.
This is also not a good method for counting votes because it allows a majority of voters to control the entire committee. Suppose that a city is electing a council of 10 and that 51% of the city is party A and 49% is party B. Under this method, party A can elect its candidates to all 10 seats of the council and party B will be unrepresented even though it is supported by 49% of the voters.