Monday, July 30, 2012

Ranked ballot system a possibility in Toronto's future

A significant democratic reform initiative could be on its way in Canada's biggest city: "Ranked ballots for 2018? Toronto city council may vote on changing its election system." This would have a few advantages, some cited in the report:
At present, a widely disliked councillor can be re-elected with the support of even a quarter of the vote because several lesser-known challengers split the opposition vote. The ranked ballot, Meslin said, would ensure that the victor is truly the pick of the people while also weakening the powerful advantage enjoyed by municipal incumbents.
With vote-splitting a non-concern, underdog fresh faces would face less backroom pressure to drop out of the running to make way for a like-minded candidate perceived as stronger, Meslin said. Voters would no longer feel compelled to vote strategically, to prevent a certain candidate from winning, rather than for the candidate they truly prefer most.
Votes would no longer be “wasted,” Meslin said. And because candidates would vie to become the second choice of their opponents’ supporters, said Ainslie, there would be far less “mudslinging” and a new focus on substantive issues.
Even reluctant councillors might consider supporting this given that it looks like the time frame is 2018 and therefore might be beyond their time in office. There could be a vote on it in the fall.

What Toronto does might focus some national attention on the issue and add to its legitimacy as an option for national democratic reform. A very intriguing development.