Ranked Ballot

Voter turnout numbers have been in a steady decline for quite awhile. Many feel that the “first past the post” voting system is part of the problem. In response, Trudeau made a 2015 campaign promise of reform. In Ontario, individual Municipalities are now permitted to change their system to a “ranked ballot” for 2018. PEC and most others have not accepted the challenge.

Two Ontario cities, Cambridge and Kingston, have put a referendum on the Ballot. PEC could advise these two Municipalities about the peculiarities of putting a referendum on the Ballot. We all remember the PEC 2010 referendum on size of Council. The rule for a binding result remains unchanged. The turnout must be at least 50% of eligible voters AND the YES side must get 50%+1 of votes cast. Some of the Mayoral candidates from both cities have said that they will honor the spirit of the referendum regardless of per cent turnout. Cambridge 2014 turnout was 30% of eligible voters. If the new Mayor delivers, I say it would be ironic considering the referendum subject.

Ranked Ballots are intended to ensure that a candidate gets 50% of the Ballots cast. In practice this means that a voter chooses multiple candidates and ranks them in order of preference. The counting procedure is not overly complicated but too much so for this discussion. Also there are several variations which try to consider different Municipal demographics.

The Ontario City of London bypassed the referendum route. In 2017, the Council went through a public feedback process and decided to use a “Ranked Ballot System” in this October 22, 2018 Municipal Election. The results should be interesting for the “what-if” type analyst.

Like all other changes the success of these efforts will be measured against the VOTER’S expectations. I think this issue is important for PEC but the priority is low. Assuming it would take about 18 months to resolve, we can use the other Municipality’s results as input to a Mid-2020 start date.

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