I supported the call for allowing Ontario municipalities to used ranked ballots for the municipal election and so I was very excited when the province allowed it. Ultimately though, I was disappointed that Waterloo Region’s municipalities didn’t seize the opportunity. There is some hope for the future as Cambridge is holding a referendum on the idea.
As Record columnist Luisa D’Amato wrote recently this reform is a no-brainer.
In my December 2016 column for The Community Edition, I shared my reasons for supporting ranked ballots. Here’s an excerpt:
For the first time, municipalities in Ontario have the option of using a ranked ballot in the 2018 municipal election. And it is an option they should be seizing in order to make voting meaningful for the level of government with the most impact on our day to day life.
With a ranked ballot, nobody can win with less than a majority of the vote because when voters go to the polling booth they are not limited to making a single choice. Rather they rank their choices from their favourite to their least favourite. When the ballots are counted, if no one receives a majority of the votes the candidate with the least first choices is dropped and those votes are redistributed to the second choice. The process is repeated until the top candidate has a majority of the votes — and arguably a mandate from voters.
In a municipal election, voters often find themselves faced with a long list of candidates. Incumbents or other seasoned politicians have a distinct advantage in terms of fundraising and elect-ability due to their name recognition. A ranked ballot helps to level out the playing field. Rather than a split of the vote between the newcomers struggling for funds and recognition, one of them could emerge as the consensus candidate of change.
If a voter prefers a certain approach to local issues such as being represented by a progressive or a fiscal conservative, they may have more than one choice. Ranking candidates by their positions helps ensures the winner reflects what voters’ preference of approach.
Incumbents need not shake in their boots, as they can benefit too. They don’t have to worry about a vote split making the difference between winning and losing.
Read more of my columns about making Kitchener and Waterloo Region the best communities possible to live, work and play.