Ranked ballots are here! (including STV!)



The province of Ontario has just released their regulations for municipal ranked ballots!  For the first time, we can see all the details of single-member Ranked Choice Voting as well as multi-member STV (Single Transferable Vote - a proportional system).

This is a huge step forward for Canada's voting reform movement.  For the first time in over half a century, legislation has been adopted that breaks the First-Past-The-Post monopoly in Canada. We are currently the only OECD country that uses FPTP exclusively, but these new regulations open the door to reform.

For those who are tired of distorted results, negative campaigns, lack of choice, strategic voting and low voter engagement, this is big news.

The only question now is: Who will lead?


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Maryam Monsef's Eight Principles



Canada's Liberal government has promised to get rid of First-Past-the-Post.  But what should they replace it with?  Ranked Choice Voting? Mixed Member Proportional? Single Transferable Vote?  And more importantly, what process should they use to figure that out? Public consultation? A Citizens' Assembly? A referendum?

All these questions have fallen into the lap of Mayram Monsef, Canada's new Minister for Democratic Institutions.  At a recent event in Ottawa, Minister Monsef gave us a peek at how she's planning to approach this difficult topic.  There's a great article on iPolitics that summarises the "Eight Principles" that the Minister put forward.  Below is a word-for-word transcript of her presentation, including a few links we've added to the text. Enjoy!


Mayram Monsef, April 14 2016, iVote Symposium  (VIDEO available here)

"Let me tell you a little bit about what I’ve been up to as your Minister for Democratic Institutions.  Much like the promise I made to the people of Peterborough–Kawartha that I would do politics differently, that same principle and that same way of doing politics differently is something that I’ve brought to my mandate here.

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DIY Democracy Quilt!


Explaining voting systems can be difficult.  Plurality, majority, proportional, vote-splitting, false majorities, etc.  Without visual props, an audience will get confused and/or bored quite quickly.

Here a Unlock Democracy, our favorite two props are LEGO bricks and the Democracy Quilt!

We've been using our hand-made quilt for four years, leading interactive demonstrations in Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Guelph, London, and even on live TV!  We were also invited to demonstrate our quilt at a FairVote conference in Washington DC.

Recently, we've had a few people ask us for advice and specifications, so they can make their own Democracy Quilt!

Here's everything you need to know about how we made our first quilt:

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Municipal Ranked Ballots: Major Announcement on Monday!



Three years ago, Toronto City Council asked the provincial government to allow them to use ranked ballots for local elections.  A few months later, eight thousand people signed a petition asking the province to respect the request.

In 2014 the Ontario government promised that, if re-elected, they would allow all 444 municipalities to use ranked ballots. 

After a year of public consultations, it seems the government is finally ready to move forward on their promise.  The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has just announced that they'll be making a major announcement about municipal democratic reform.  Here are the details:


"Please join us at our upcoming event where Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ted McMeekin will make an announcement about important changes Ontario is intending to introduce to give municipalities more local choice in future municipal elections."
What:    Changes Ontario is intending to propose to the Municipal Elections Act
mcmeekin.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox.jpgWhen:   Monday April 4th, 2016
Where:  Pitman Hall Residence, Room 110
              Ryerson University

The event is open to the public - we hope you can join us!  This is a historic moment for the voting reform movement in Ontario.

They aren't releasing many details yet, but we're hoping that the Minister will be introducing new legislation and we're also hopeful that the new proposed rules will allow for ranked ballots to be used by all municipalities, either in single-member districts or in multi-member districts.  We'll find out on Monday!



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United for Fair Voting

"Electoral systems must be judged by how well they mirror voter choice. Proportional Representation ensures that everyone's values and views are reflected in Parliament."
~Guy Giorno, former chief of staff to Stephen Harper


Stéphane Dion, Guy Giorno and Tom Mulcair don’t agree on much. But they agree on the need for Proportional Representation.

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Lego My Vote: Newfoundland + Labrador


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



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


[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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