The Senbatsu Election (選抜総選挙) (also known as Senbatsu Sousenkyo) is an annual event where fans can vote for their favorite member, analogous to a popularity contest. The members who receive the most votes are announced on the day of the election, but votes are submitted beforehand.
Currently, the 80 members who have the most votes are then grouped: Senbatsu (#1~#16), Undergirls (#17~#32), Next Girls (#33~48), Future Girls (#49~#64) and Upcoming Girls (#65~#80). Each of these five groups releases their own song and music video for the following single. To commemorate the 10th Senbatsu Election in 2018, a sixth unit called the 10th World Senbatsu General Election Commemorative Category (#81~#100) was added. The "Senbatsu" unit was also rebranded as "Sekai Senbatsu" due to AKB48 groups outside of Japan being allowed to participate.
In 2019, AKB48 cancelled the year's Senbatsu Election, and they have not hosted the event since the announcement.
- See also: List of ranked Senbatsu Election members
- AKB48 13th Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo ～Kamisama ni Chikatte Gachi desu～
- AKB48 17th Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo ～Kaasan ni Chikatte, Gachi desu～
- AKB48 22nd Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo ～Kotoshi mo Gachi desu～ (First time including NMB48 members)
- AKB48 27th Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo ～Fan ga Erabu 64giseki～ (First time including HKT48 members)
- AKB48 32nd Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo ～Yume wa Hitori ja Mirarenai～ (First time including graduated members and Team Kaigai)
- AKB48 37th Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo ～Yume no Genzaichi ～Rival wa Doko da?～ (First time including Team 8 members)
- AKB48 41st Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo ～Juni Yoso Fukano, Oare no Ichiya～
- AKB48 45th Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo 〜Bokutachi wa Dare ni Tsuiteikeba ii?〜 (First time including NGT48 members)
- AKB48 49th Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo 〜Mazu wa Tatakaou! Hanashi wa Sorekara da〜 (First time including STU48 members)
- AKB48 53rd Single Sekai Senbatsu Sousenkyo 〜Sekai no Center wa Dare da?〜 (First time including 48 groups outside Japan)
- A total of 215 members ranked in the Senbatsu Election (235 members when including #81~#100 in 2016 or 2017, or #101~#120 in 2018).
- 52 members ranked Senbatsu in at least one election.
- Maeda Atsuko, Oshima Yuko, Sashihara Rino, Watanabe Mayu, and Matsui Jurina were the only members to rank first-place.
- Matsui Jurina and Minegishi Minami were the only members to rank in all ten elections.