London is going down in history as the first municipality in Canada to use ranked ballots — but it might also be for taking the longest to announce results.
The new system, which allows Londoners to vote for their top three choices for mayor and city councillor, means candidates with the fewest votes will drop off the ballot one by one and their votes will be redistributed to the second — and later, maybe third — choice.
City clerk Cathy Saunders anticipates the results of the first choice votes by roughly midnight, and the count of all subsequent rounds of voting begins Tuesday at 10 a.m. at city hall. You can find an extensive breakdown of how ranked ballots work here.
It’s possible London won’t know its mayor until Wednesday.
“It’s important to get it right,” said Andrew Sancton, the former head of Western University’s local government program. “I don’t see any particular reason why the city of London workers should be working at 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock in the morning.”
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London’s $500-million bus rapid transit (BRT) plan has become a key topic over the past six months, with the support of just one leading mayoral candidate, Tanya Park. Sancton told 980 CFPL that Park likely won’t benefit from second- or third-choice votes from people who chose to vote against the contentious transit plan.
“But the other three candidates should benefit from second and third choices for that group. That’s why, if it wasn’t for ranked ballots, you’d think Tanya Park would have a good chance.”
Mayoral candidates Paul Paolatto, Ed Holder, and Paul Cheng have all said they’d either the scrap BRT or change it drastically.
But Matt Farrell, who teaches political science at Fanshawe College, said it remains to be seen whether bus rapid transit truly is the biggest issue of London’s municipal election.
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“The candidates recognize the salience of the issue,” Farrell said. “They recognize that the public is divided, and they’re trying to align themselves for or against it, accordingly. But what we don’t know is if voters are going to make up their minds based on that single issue.”
Farrell said there are plenty of other issues that voters care about. Besides transit options, affordable housing, supervised consumption sites and red tape at city hall have all been mentioned in various mayoral and councillor platforms, too.
Polls across London are open Monday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. If you don’t know where to vote, the city has a tool on its website to show you where to go. You’ll want to bring your voter registration card with you, if you received one. It’s necessary to bring identification with your full name and address; you may need to bring more than one piece.
980 CFPL’s live election coverage begins at 7 p.m.