February 25, 2014 4:57 pm
Updated: February 25, 2014 5:11 pm

Ontario NDP introduces ranked-ballot legislation

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TORONTO – An NDP MPP introduced a motion to allow the city of Toronto to hold ranked ballot elections on Tuesday.

Jonah Schein, a Toronto MPP for Davenport, said in a statement Tuesday that his bill would give the city “the ability to determine how its mayor and councillors are elected.”

“It’s important that it pass quickly to empower the people and Council of Toronto,” he said in the written statement.

Ranked balloting has voters choose a list of candidates, rather than just one. Voters rank their candidates as their first, second and third choice. Once voting ends, the votes are tallied in a number of rounds. If after the first round, someone receives more than 50 per cent of the vote, they win. But if no one receives a majority in the first round, the second choice votes are counted, then third choice and so on until someone receives more than 50 per cent of the vote.

The motion comes just 24 hours before Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter was planning to introduce her party’s own motion allowing ranked balloting. Hunter’s legislation is expected to differ from Schein’s however as it will apply to all municipalities and not just Toronto, The Globe and Mail reported Monday.

The legislation comes several months after a majority of Toronto city councillors requested the province allow them to hold ranked ballot elections.

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But the bill, if passed, likely wouldn’t produce results until the 2018 election as rules can’t be changed mid-campaign. It would also take time to change voting rules and teach the public exactly how it works, Dave Meslin, a ranked ballot advocate told Global News Monday.

Supporters of ranked ballot elections say they ensure winners are elected with the majority of votes and eliminate strategic voting.

Meslin suggested that ranked ballots also eliminate negative campaigning that’s prevalent in elections.

“There’s an incentive to say nice things about their opponents because you want to be the second choice of their supporters,” he said Monday. “We’re already seeing a lot of negativity and attacks in the mayoral election for Toronto; we think all of that would disappear with a ranked ballot.”

Meslin also suggested the change would cut down on vote-splitting, where one candidate can be elected without a majority because opposing votes were split amongst several other candidates.

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