Wynne government opens way to ranked ballots in municipal elections
Liberal government tables legislation to allow ranked ballots and other changes by 2018.
The Wynne government tabled legislation Monday to alter to the Municipal Elections Act, giving Ontario cities and towns the option of using ranked ballots to elect mayors and councillors.
"In jurisdictions that have this system... more people vote and there is a more civil engagement in the process," said Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
In the current first-past-the-post system, the candidate with the highest number of votes wins the election.
Under a ranked-ballots system, voters would have a first, second, and third choice. If a candidate wins 50 per cent plus one of the first place votes, that person wins the election.
But if no one achieves that majority, the person with the fewest first place votes is eliminated and voters' second place choices are then divided up among the remaining candidates. The process continues until there is a majority winner.
"When there is a ranked ballot you need to get along ... because you may need to count on somebody else's supporters to put you over the 50 per cent," McMeekin said.
If passed, the legislation would give municipalities the option of using ranked ballots in time for the 2018 elections. It would also shorten municipal election campaigns by 120 days and give municipalities the chance to ban corporate and union donations.
"I'm really excited about the changes," said Katherine Skene, co-chair of the Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto (RaBIT).
"With ranked ballots...campaigns are more positive, council is more collaborative. We've also seen there is an increase in diversity; more women are elected," Skene said.