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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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:

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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.

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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!

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"Everybody Play Nice" • London, Ontario joins the movement!

The RaBIT campaign for municipal voting reform launched in Toronto in 2010.  Recently, new campaigns have popped up in Barrie, Ottawa and Vancouver.

Screen_Shot_2014-06-17_at_9.31.05_PM.pngAnd as of this month, we can add London to the growing list!

In this wonderful blog post, Spencer A Sandor explains some of the motivations behind the new campaign.

Welcome 123London!!

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VoteCheck: The Quebec Election

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Welcome to1_chart.png VoteCheck!  We'll be publishing election analysis for municipal, provincial and federal elections in Canada to show voters how First Past The Post doesn't give us the governments we actually voted for.  Our first installment is about this week's provincial election in Quebec.  The headlines all say the same thing: "Liberal Majority".  But the actual numbers tell a different story.  The truth is, the majority of Quebec voters did not prefer the Liberal Party.

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123 Barrie! A new campaign in Ontario.

Seven months ago, Toronto City Council voted in favour of a proposal to abandon First Past the Post for local municipal elections.   This was a historic moment for our movement, and a huge step towards bringing proportional representation to Canada and our provinces.

After four failed referenda (Ontario, PEI, and two in BC), it's nice to finally see a positive campaign WIN for the movement.  So we're thrilled to announce that a sister campaign has now been launched in Barrie, Ontario called "123 Barrie"!

123barrie.jpgThe campaign's goal is to introduce ranked ballots for their local City Council elections.  If you live in the Barrie/Orillia area, you can join Fair Vote Simcoe County Chapter for their "Annual Winter Social", to learn more about the new campaign.

Ranked Ballots make local elections more fair, diverse, inclusive and friendly.  We're excited to see a new campaign get off the ground.  Good luck Barrie!!

GET INVOLVED!  You can connect with 123 Barrie through their website, newsletter, Facebook, or Twitter!

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ACT LOCAL: Campus Democracy Project!!

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Toronto UnConference • January 24th • Hart House

Canada uses a broken voting system called “First-Past-the-Post”.  It’s a terrible system because it pushes out new voices, forces voters to choose ‘strategically’, encourages negative campaigns and often delivers us the exact opposite result of what we actually voted for.

But we don’t just use this voting system to choose our national parliament, we also use First-Past-the-Post to choose our provincial parliaments and all of our mayors and City Councillors.  And it doesn’t stop there!  Every week, across Canada, there are hundreds - if not thousands - of elections:  Condo boards, residents groups, non-profit boards, labour elections, high school student councils, tenant boards, credit unions, and post-secondary student unions.  And with few exceptions, almost ALL of these groups use First-Past-The-Post. 

You’ve heard the phrase “Think Global, Act Local”.   We think that’s good advice for the voting reform movement!  It might be a long time before our federal government is ready to embrace real substantial voting reform.  In the meantime, let’s start at home!  There are elections all around us, and we can help plant seeds of change by reforming local elections in our own communities.   The best way to teach voters about alternative voting methods, isn’t through textbooks and leaflets.  The best teaching method is to get them to actually use alternative methods, in their own personal and professional lives.

If we can convince hundreds of boards, councils and unions to abandon First-Past-The-Post, we’ll have taken a huge leap towards reforming our provincial and federal elections. 

Campus unions can lead by example, and be a catalyst for change!

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Michael Chong's Reform Act. What do YOU think?

The dChongMichaelD_CPC.jpgiscussion around electoral reform in Canada takes many forms; most recently, it’s been introduced in the form of a private member’s bill from Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong.

Chong’s bill, titled The Reform Act, takes aim at what many see as too much control of party leaders over how MPs vote—and even say—as elected representatives by removing the requirement that party leaders must sign off on individual nominations in every riding, and giving power to MPs to remove the party leader via a caucus vote. As recently as the November by-election, we’ve seen how riding nominations can become controversial and divisive when party leaders handpick candidates.

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UPDATE: Pushing the Liberals towards PR

Four weeks ago, I wrote a post about members of the Liberal party who are trying to push the party towards a policy position that favours proportional representation - or at least opens the door to PR.

It looks like their efforts have paid off!  The Liberal Caucus has approved a motion to be sent to the upcoming Montreal policy convention, with the following wording:

"AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, the Liberal Party of Canada institute an all-Party process, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with analysis and recommendations for an electoral system including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent all Canadians more fairly and to allow Parliament to serve Canada better."

Of course, this is just the first hurdle.  The next step is to WIN the vote at the convention!

Here's how you can help:

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