It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
Electoral reform is always a sticky issue and last December, the province gave municipalities the ability to choose between the traditional First Past The Post (FTPT) or Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for municipal council elections. We were given a very short timeframe to decide, as we had to make our choice known to the province by May 1stof this year. Because part of my campaign platform in 2014 included exploring ranked ballots for the next election, I supported the move to start public consultations immediately to see if Londoners were ready for a change. Admittedly, in our surveys, people were split. About half were in support of RCV and the other half wanted to keep things as they were. I held several meetings in our ward to talk with Londoners about these options. I found that once it was explained how RCV worked, more people were in the camp that supported the change to use ranked ballots. When it came time for council to choose which election method to use, I, along with the majority of council, voted make the switch.
There are a number of reasons why I believe RCV has advantages over FTPT including providing more choice to electors, electing candidates that better represent the views of the constituency, reducing vote splitting, reducing the advantage held by incumbents, and supporting better candidate diversity. For me, the two main reasons I supported the change were transparency and mandate. During provincial and federal elections, candidates for the parties are chosen during a vote of the riding association in an open and transparent manner. Since we don’t have political parties in municipal elections, there is much work done by groups behind the scenes to choose a candidate so that vote splitting is less likely to happen. I think this robs the public of choice and is not at the level of transparency that an election deserves. On the second point, it’s hard for councillors to claim that they have a mandate on specific issues unless they have more than 50% of the vote. Since, in most cases with RCV, candidates must receive at least 50% of the vote to win, ranked ballots help to ensure that elected officials have the clearest expression of support from their electors.
So, when you go to the polls next year, your ballot will give you the option to rank your preference of councillor and mayoral candidates in order from first to third. It may seem complex at first but the option is yours if you wish to use all three rankings. You may choose to rank only two candidates or treat the ballot as you did in the 2010 and 2014 elections and cast only one vote. You are not required to rank your ballot and not ranking your choices won’t spoil your ballot. Ranked Choice Voting is an exciting change that gives you more choice and more power over who can best represent you at City Hall.
Here's a primer video on how Ranked Ballots work: