It is hard to believe people who fail to understand the mathematics of voting with ranked ballots. No matter how many times we see the proof of the problem, some numbskull is going to pick up the cudgel to hit themselves over the head with that ill-considered way of voting.
It was probably more by accident than design that the conservative party in Canada solved the problem in the last leadership by ejecting one of the candidates before the vote. By throwing Brampton mayor Patrick Brown out of the race, they guaranteed that the winner would be Pierre Poilievre. The problem in that race never was the liberal leanings of John Charest. If Poilievre had less than 45 per cent of the votes on the first count, Patrick Brown might have won on the second or third count of the ballots. I really think it was because of that concern that Brown was convicted of unspecified charges and his votes were discarded.
And with Brown out of the race, Poilievre went on to an easy first ballot win. His win was the same as though it was a first-past-the-post win because of the missing votes for Patrick Brown. The missing Brown votes obviously put Poilievre over 50 per cent.
You wonder why so many people think that ranked ballots are democratic when with each count, you are throwing out votes from the initial count. Many people do not bother to rank their choices. You can hardly force them to. Their ballot does not count if their original vote is dropped out. And how much thought would voters put into their third or fourth choice?
There were 14 candidates in the 2017 conservative leadership. That was the one that proved conclusively that the system the conservatives used was guaranteed to provide an unsatisfactory conclusion. When it came down to Andrew Scheer and Maxime Bernier, it was obvious that there would be a lot of unhappy conservatives. And don’t forget, there was the further obstacle in the count of applying the votes to ridings as though they are equal—which anyone with political experience knows is not true.
In the next leadership in 2020 there were only four candidates in the race, it took three ballot counts to declare Erin O’Toole the winner. It should be noted that he only had 31 per cent of the vote on the first ballot. He was second choice to Peter MacKay and needed the votes from both losers on the second and third ballots.
And that is why I always say that in ranked balloting, the losers are the choosers.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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