Toronto is now one step closer to ranked-ballot voting
If only the provincial government always worked this swiftly. In just under two weeks at Queen’s Park, ranked-ballot voting for Toronto has gone from a vague policy announcement to an actual bill, under consideration by an actual committee.
Bill 166, which would allow Toronto (and only Toronto) to conduct municipal elections using ranked ballots, passed second reading on Thursday after being tabled by MPP Mitzi Hunter last week. It will now go before the legislature’s social policy committee. If all goes well at committee, the bill will return to the legislature for third reading, the last step before royal assent. Even if it passes, city council will ultimately decide whether or not to implement the new balloting system in Toronto. Ranked voting likely wouldn’t come into force until 2018, at the earliest.
Under a ranked-ballot system, every voter ranks his or her favourite few candidates, rather than picking only one. If no single candidate is ranked as a first choice by a majority of voters, there are a series of “instant runoff” rounds of voting, where the lowest-scoring candidates are eliminated and votes for them are automatically reallocated to their supporters’ next-favourite candidates. The key advantage of ranked ballots is that they all but eliminate vote splitting, because everyone votes multiple times at once. A Toronto-based activist group called RaBIT has been pushing for the change for years.