Lego My Vote: Newfoundland + Labrador

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We've just posted the fifth edition of Lego My Vote! 

 

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Prescription: Ranked ballots for Toronto, proportionality for Parliament

[cross-posted from the Toronto Star]

Ontario’s non-stop election marathon is over. During the last 18 months, we’ve elected our provincial government, local city councils and a new federal government.

This rare alignment gives voters an unusually long break before the next round of elections, an electoral holiday providing us with an opportunity to step back and explore opportunities to improve our democracy.

Canada has the dubious distinction of being the only OECD country using first-past-the-post universally for all elections (local, provincial and federal). It’s a system that works fine for a two-candidate race, but in a multi-party system it completely breaks down. That’s why the Liberal Party won 54 per cent of the seats in our new Parliament, even though only 39 per cent of Canadians voted for them. And that’s why so few western democracies use it.

Consensus is slowly building that our current system has to go. The question is, which system do we replace it with? There’s no simple answer and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

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This first-past-the-post election has driven Canadians apart

 

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Dear Canadians,

What the hell has happened to us?  Canada is supposed to be a compassionate, caring and friendly nation - but this election campaign has been nothing short of mean, nasty and divisive.  But we can’t blame Stephen Harper or Justin Trudeau  - this problem of negative elections precedes them and their parties. 

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

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[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!

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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,

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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:

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

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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)

 

Enjoy!!

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

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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.

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Lego My Vote! Prince Edward Island

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

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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.

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