On October 20, 2020, the Ford government announced that it will move to revoke the power granted to Ontario municipalities to hold ranked ballot votes for municipal elections to make voting “consistent” across federal, provincial and municipal elections.
Ranked ballot advocates feel that it creates a more democratic, more equitable, and more inclusive political system. CAG was also looking at advocating for ranked ballots in Richmond Hill for the 2022 municipal elections.
The City of London was the first city to use ranked ballots in the 2018 municipal election and a number of other communities including Toronto were looking at doing the same. Kingston and Cambridge have both decided by referenda to move towards ranked ballots. London’s ranked ballot election in 2018 was considered a “fantastic success” for increasing diversity on council and changing how people interacted with the election.
Advocacy group, Unlock Democracy Canada, has been actively campaigning for ranked ballots across Ontario. They have put together a report titled "#LondonLeads" and on Monday October 26, 2020 are hosting a 60 minute Crash Course about ranked ballots elections.
CAG encourages you to register and attend this session to learn about ranked ballots and why this sudden move by the PC government is considered by many a continuing attack on municipalities and grassroots democracy.
Following years of lobbying, the government of former premier Kathleen Wynne amended the Municipal Elections Act to allow municipalities to decide for themselves whether they wanted to adopt the voting system. The move by the Ford government to scrap ranked ballot elections was slipped in as part of the “Supporting Ontario's Recovery Act,” new legislation meant to shield essential workers from additional liability associated with health measures around the pandemic.
With ranked ballots voters are more likely to select the candidate they most want to win rather than “the least bad option” in any race in which a leading opposing candidate is far from securing a majority in the first round. That’s because if their candidate is bundled out, the vote transfers. It can also mean that the eventual winner is not the candidate who had the most first-choice votes, but rather the one that garnered the broadest base of support.
Ranked ballots work by asking voters to rank their candidates in order of preference. For any candidate to win, they have to receive more than 50 per cent of the votes.
If, after an initial count, no one candidate has a majority, then the candidate with the least votes is knocked out. The second choices of that candidate’s supporters are then added to the remaining candidates. That process continues until a winner is declared.