Good for the Goose: Exposing the Double-Standard of Ranked Ballot Critics


[cross-posted on Huffington Post]

Municipal elections in Ontario are about to get more fair and friendly. The provincial government is introducing legislation that will allow any municipality (there are 444 of them!) to use ranked ballots and runoff voting.

Ranked ballots give more power to voters by eliminating strategic voting, encouraging positive campaigns and ensuring that unpopular incumbents can’t win their seats due to vote-splitting. In Toronto, for example, an incumbent councillor “won” his seat in 2014 even though 75 per cent of his constituents voted against him. Another councillor “won” with only 17 per cent of the vote! Runoff voting puts an end to these kinds of distorted results.

But as Ontario moves closer to becoming the first province to allow ranked ballot voting, critics of reform are speaking out.

Some of the most amusing criticisms are coming from city councillors and municipal clerks. From Toronto and Minto, to Cambridge and Niagara Falls, we’re hearing local officials suggest that ranked ballots are confusing, complex, frivolous and unfair.

These accusations are not only untrue, but they reveal a comedic double-standard. After all, not only is runoff voting already being used by all of Canada’s political parties, but it is also being used by an interesting group of politicians: Ontario city councillors!

Read more
2 reactions Share

Canada's voting system is not only broken... it's obscure.

One of the most common arguments against voting reform, is the suggestion that ranked ballots or proportional representation are some kind of radical obscure phenomena.

The truth is, our system is obscure.  It's rarely used, because it simply doesn't work!

While a small handful of countries use it for their federal elections (UK and US), even those countries use runoff elections for their local municipal councils.  And the UK uses PR for their EU seats!   In fact, of ALL the OECD countries, Canada is the ONLY ONE that uses First-Past-the-Post universally for all of it's elections,


Read more
2 reactions Share

GlobalNews VIDEO: What are Canada’s electoral reform options?

Confused about voting reform?  We don't blame you.  There's a whole bunch of options, terms and acronyms being thrown around.

Last week we posted Mark Coffin's explanation of voting reform options for Canada.

Here's Global News' attempt to explain proportional representation and ranked ballots, in a short snappy video:


1 reaction Share

Horses, shuffles and a buffet • A fun look at voting systems



East coast democracy activist Mark Coffin has put together a clever series of articles explaining four different voting systems.

It's worth a read!


Part I: The Horse Race (First Pas the Post)

Part II - The Ballot Shuffle (Ranked Choice Voting)

Part III - The Buffet (Proportional Representation - List PR)

Part IV - Reimagining democracy: The best of both ballots  (Mixed Member Proportional - MMP)



2 reactions Share

REPORT CARD: Which party is talking about democratic reform the most?


This week, Canada's four major national parties launched their campaigns for the 2015 federal election.

I was curious to find out which party did the best job, at their campaign launch, of highlighting the need for democratic renewal and explaining how they would help Canadians rebuild trust with our political system.

I assumed that, at minimum, Mulcair would probably mention his policy to abolish the Senate and Elizabeth May would probably highlight the need for proportional representation. I also thought that Trudeau would likely mention his commitment to getting rid of First-Past-the-Post or perhaps one of the other democratic reforms he's proposed. Admittedly, my expectations for Harper were low (simply because incumbents rarely talk about the need for democratic reform).

I spent 66 minutes watching all of the speeches, listening carefully for so I could conduct an in-depth comparative analysis.

Read more
1 reaction Share

Lego My Vote! Prince Edward Island


Another provincial election, another distorted result!!  Check out the second installment of Lego My Vote!

1 reaction Share

Britain is heading to the polls, but they do things a little different than us

The United Kingdom goes to the polls on May 7, but with 7 parties vying for seats in Westminster, many observers are saying that this general election will be like no other the UK has seen.

Read more
1 reaction Share

Kingston moves forward with democratic renewal

This is exciting: Two weeks ago, Kingston City Council adopted a motion by Mary Rita Holland and Jim Neill, expressing support for municipal ranked ballots, extending voting rights to non-citizens AND lowering the voting age to 16 - all amazing ideas. Here's the full text:

Read more
Add your reaction Share

GLOBE: "How to make young people care: Start by letting them vote"

In today's Globe and Mail, there's a great piece by Elizabeth Renzetti about youth engagement in the upcoming Scottish independence referendum.

The voting age has been set at 16, and the results have been extraordinary.

"It’s not news that young people in Western democracies are generally not passionate about the political process – about issues, yes, and protests, too, but not the nuts and bolts of a system that seems irrelevant and combative."

"So far, about four-fifths of Scotland’s 16- and 17-year-olds have registered to vote – 100,000 people."

One reason we often hear when it comes to so-called "youth apathy", is that many young people feel that politicians aren't speaking to them about the issues they care about.  In the Scottish referendum, that has changed:

"Both sides have taken their message to the teenagers: They hold open-mic nights and comedy shows, and set up booths at music festivals."

"Politicians, too, are turning up at high schools – not their normal stomping grounds – to debate the issues and listen to student concerns (everything from European Union membership to Internet trolling)"

"If nothing else, teens now know that politicians are real, and not demonic puppets only seen shouting at each other on the nightly news."

Is it time to look at a lower voting age in Canada?  Would it increase youth participation? Join Unlock Democracy, and become a part of the growing conversation!

Read the full article in today's Globe here.

2 reactions Share

FIFA: Diversity of voting sytems

As the World Cup plays out in Brazil, we thought it would be interesting to look at the voting systems used in each country.  Out of 32 countries, only five are using Canada's broken "First-Past-the-Post system.  Most of the countries are using some form of proportional representation.  And many others are using majority systems or semi-proportional hybrids.  It's a reminder for all of us that there are many options out there worth looking at.

Check out our FIFA chart below, and share!

Read more
1 reaction Share

← Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  Next →