Cambridge council could still pursue ranked ballots

Cambridge voters said 'yes' to ranked ballots for future municipal elections. The referendum had less than 50 per cent turnout and was invalid but council could still pursue the idea.

'Yes' vote won the referendum in Monday night's election

Cambridge residents have voted in support of the city using ranked ballots in its next municipal election, in 2022. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC London)

The new Mayor of Cambridge and city council could still proceed with a ranked balloting process in 2022 despite less than 50 per cent of the city voting in Monday's municipal election.

According to the City of Cambridge, 13,488 votes were cast in favour of ranked ballots and 10,449 people voted against the idea. 

"The municipality is not in a position to proceed with the ranked ballot for the next election because we did not have a 50 per cent voter turnout, which the Municipal Elections Act requires in order for a referendum to be binding," said Michael Di Lullo, Cambridge's city clerk. 

"But, the other part of it is, because it was an affirmative vote...council can still take into consideration and make a decision for 2022."

Cambridge's voter turnout for Monday's municipal election was 33.04 per cent. 

The group Yes! Cambridge thought the vote was a "historic moment for Cambridge, Waterloo region and the Province of Ontario" before finding out that it was non-binding. 

"Cambridge should be duly proud to have voted to strengthen our local democracy and give voters a stronger voice in our elections," the group said Tuesday morning in a release. 

First ever ranked ballot election

The Ontario Municipal Act paved the way for municipalities to use ranked ballots for the 2018 election, as an alternative to first past the post. 

London was the only municipality to use the system Monday — making the city the first ever to try it in Canada.

Municipalities were required to hold an open house and a public meeting to consult with constituents before making any changes to the voting system. Cambridge decided to hold a referendum asking if citizens would like to see ranked ballots in 2022.


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