Provincial Legislation to Introduce Ranked Ballots for Municipal Elections
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Provincial Legislation to Introduce Ranked Ballots for Municipal Elections

City Council reversed its support for the voting method last year.

Photo by asianz from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Photo by asianz from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

The provincial government intends to bring ranked ballots to future municipal elections across Ontario by 2018.

Proposed changes to the Municipal Elections Act, introduced Monday, would allow municipalities to pass a bylaw to implement ranked ballots. This, unlike the current first past the post system, allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote on the first ballot, the lowest vote-getters would drop off the ballot and be redistributed according to those voters’ preferences.

The province says these changes would “modernize municipal elections.”

Currently, no Canadian jurisdiction uses ranked ballots, though the system is favoured in major cities such as San Francisco and London, England, and in Canadian party leadership races.

In 2013, Toronto City Council voted to support the implementation of ranked ballots in the province, an issue that advocates spent years fighting for. That vote was reversed in October 2015 after Councillor Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke Lakeshore) introduced a motion to denounce support, calling the proposed system too confusing. Council voted in favour of Di Ciano’s motion, 25-18.

The implementation of ranked ballots would be optional for individual municipalities, meaning Toronto could effectively opt out of the system.

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