Dougie Dumps Ranked Ballots.

You have to hand it to Ontario premier Doug Ford. He rarely gets much right. He just knows what he hates about municipal politics—anything that the downtown Toronto councillors like. This includes changing the voting from first-past-the-post (FPTP) to ranked ballots.

The change had been allowed under provincial legislation but to-date only Cambridge and London, Ontario had taken the step away from FPTP voting. Some Toronto councillors were hoping the city could make the change to ranked ballots as early as in the upcoming 2022 municipal elections.

The provincial government explained their decision with the curt statement that “Now is not the time for municipalities to experiment with costly changes to how municipal elections are conducted.”

While some of the proponents of the change were claiming this was an anti-democratic move by the Ontario conservatives, nobody other than the legislature had ever voted for it. Ontario voters took a look at what is called mixed member proportional voting in a referendum linked to the provincial election of 2007 and defeated the suggestion by a vote of about two to one.

The problem with changing how we vote is that FPTP is a known and trusted system that has been used for hundreds of years. It would take extensive, and probably expensive, selling of any alternative system before voters would accept it.

In the view of this writer what people seemed to be asking for in discussing the subject of change is that they want to be able to be sure candidates have a majority of their voters supporting them. This can best be achieved with run-off elections. In these circumstances, when no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote, the top two vote getters have a run-off and a second vote is held.

With the growing interest in Internet voting, run-off elections would be inexpensive and easily run.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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