Why does Toronto want ranked ballots?

Toronto City Council needs to take a very hard look at ranked ballot voting. It is no panacea. It is a solution for a problem that does not exist. It is a way to choose the least controversial of multiple candidates. And why would you want to do that?

Or maybe people are just tired of the same-old first-past-the-post voting.

To be positive, this system of voting seems to encourage the least likely candidates. It has been used in political parties recently and judging by results there, it has disappointed more people than it has pleased. And why you would want to disappoint the voters is a good question?

We might also consider that ranked balloting is preferred by more candidates because it encourages more of them to run for office. Judging by experience with this system of voting, we know that it tends to sort through the voting process to produce the least controversial result.

The one thing you can count on is that the more candidates in the race for the position, the less likely that you will get the most preferred candidate. The simple reason is that if nobody gets a majority of votes, the choice falls to the second, third, fourth or fifth most favourite—as chosen by the candidates dropped from the race. It becomes a numbers game and you might as well just toss a coin.

The city was authorized to allow ranked balloting back in 2013. In typical Toronto council fashion, the idea was dropped for 2015. It was revived again for 2022 (since the city is on a four-year voting cycle now, instead of two-year).

Mind you, if the city cannot find a supplier that can count ranked ballots for 2026—and carry out all the other requirements for ranked voting that the province requires—then we can wait for 2030. And whether people come to their senses by then, is the responsibility of an entirely new generation.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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