Let’s fix everything about how Toronto elects its mayor

The case for the ranked ballot

by Ivor Tossell

There are 2.6 million people in Toronto, and most of them are running for mayor.

Thanks to Mayor Rob Ford’s possible removal from office, the floodgates have opened to rumoured contenders: Councillors like Shelley Caroll, Adam Vaughan, Karen Stintz and even Giorgio Mammoliti, to say nothing of outsiders like Olivia Chow, Kathleen Wynne and John Tory, who is very good at maybe-running for things. The mayor himself loudly declared his candidacy, before disappearing on a pre-Christmas-vacation vacation ten days ago.

“There’s a running joke: there’s so many of them, maybe we should cut to the chase and have a 44-member game of Survivor,” said Carroll, the former budget chief and suburban centre-leftist, who’s one of the few to have actually declared. Meanwhile, at an event last week, Vaughan was busy sardonically handing out buttons he’d made, so that half the room ended up badged “I’m Running For Mayor Too!”

For as long as Rob Ford has been in power, the conversation about the next election has been about how many people will run against him, instead of what they’ll be running on. The man is so polarizing that the question isn’t whether an opponent can draw support from his fervent base, but how his opposition will split their vote.

In this latest poll’s scenarios, for instance, Chow would beat Ford and a range of competitors. Without her in the race though, Ford would beat a range of three- or four-way splits against him. The poll’s results are exasperating in their attempts to puzzle through all the permutations: Chow, Ford, Vaughan, and Carroll; Chow, Ford, Tory, Vaughan and Carroll; Chow, Chow, Chow, eggs and Chow; Ford, Vaughan, eggs, sausage and Chow, and so on.

These are not the makings of a fruitful conversation. Canadians like to grouse about our first-past-the-post elections, but have been reluctant to abandon their simplicity. Four provincial referenda on full-scale reworkings of provincial governments have failed. In Toronto, though, a more manageable change might be in the works.

In Toronto, Dave Meslin, a kinetic, well-known public advocate, has spent the past year lining up support for ranked ballots, a system that could bring election results more in line with what the majority of voters would prefer. Meslin has assembled a roster of city councillors who’ve endorsed his drive, including some of Rob Ford’s staunch conservative allies, who’ve taken both Meslin and and his proposal to their town halls, where the idea seems to have been warmly received. The logistics of preparing for an election has ruled out 2014, but in order to prod the provincial government into rewriting election laws to open the door for 2018, Meslin and his allies hope to see a council vote that will get the ball rolling this coming spring.

It works like this: Instead of voting for one candidate, voters would instead rank the candidates in order of preference. When the votes are counted, if a single candidate has 50% of the first-choice vote, they win. If nobody reaches 50%, then the last-place finisher is dropped from the ballot, and their supporters’ second-choice votes are distributed. The votes are counted again, and the process repeats itself until someone has secured 50% of the vote.

In this way, a broader consensus is needed to get elected; strategic voting becomes a secondary consideration; and candidates have more incentive to be less polarizing. After all, a highly divisive figure makes a good first choice for their supporters, but is unlikely to be a popular second choice. While our current system favours those who can divide their enemies, ranked ballots tilt the playing field towards moderates and coalitions.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about ranked ballots is how unremarkable they are. They’re in widespread use in cities across the United States, including Minneapolis and San Francisco. Brian Tanguay, a professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University, notes that ranked ballots were common in Manitoba until the mid-1950s. The upcoming federal Liberal leadership race will be decided by ranked ballots. Australia has used it nationally for almost a century, and has yet to dissolve.

For all that, the system is hardly a slam-dunk amongst students of electoral reform, who have been discussing the merits of various voting systems for decades. (Among other pontificators, Winston Churchill famously slammed it in 1931 for deciding elections on “the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates” – namely, the last-place finishers. But then, Churchill also called the status quo a provider of “fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.”) And today, some voting-reform advocates see it as an inadequate half-measure that will hold back progress towards truly proportional representation.

But if it’s a cautions step, then so be it. It’s acheivable. There’s little suggestion that, for all the ranked ballot’s quirks, it’d be a step backwards. It might even whet voters appetites for more ambitious schemes, such as moving to a system of at-large councillors, like in Vancouver. The ranked ballot’s draw to the centre may not appeal to radicals of any stripe, but Toronto—jolted by its ongoing experiment in gonzo mayoring—has acquired a taste for conciliation. Let’s not let the moment pass.




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Let’s fix everything about how Toronto elects its mayor

  1. Yes, First-Past-the-Post makes a mockery of democracy. Considering candidates are arbitrarily positioned on the political spectrum, the vote is arbitrarily divided which produces arbitrary results.

    Real democracy means a majority of voters are represented in government.

    The same problem exists in provincial and federal elections. In the 1990s, the federal Liberals won easy fake majorities because the right-wing vote was split. Now the Conservatives are positioned to win easy fake majorities because the center-left vote is divided between three major parties.

    So we should immediately fix our existing system by requiring that all democratic candidates *earn* their positions with a majority of the vote through ranked ballots. That way voters don’t get saddled with politicians and governments they don’t want and didn’t vote for.

    • BTW, while in opposition Harper said FPTP produced a “benign dictatorship.” Of course, he’s perfectly fine with the system as long as he’s the “dictator”…

      • Maybe you could post a history of your letters of support for Harper when he was critical of FPTP. If you are going to bitch about the system now, be consistent and show us where you opposed the system 10 years ago.

        • Yes, it is depressing that it took all of two comments before someone tied this entirely unrelated story back to how much they dislike a federal party or politician.

          • Hey Andrew, Ron is not the PM of Canada, nor did he publicly campaign against FPTP so his position on it means slightly less than that of Harpers, who was pretty much against everything that the government does until he formed a majority, then it was in our “best interests”… Just Saying

  2. Yesterday even the Toronto Star said Ford would probably win an election if it would be held today.

    I have said all along that the left in downtown Toronto were making a big mistake when they were so desperate to get rid of Ford that they are now forcing a Mayoral by-Election on the people where Ford will win because people don`t like being told the decision they made in the original Election was not valid.

    Now, instead of coming up with a credible candidate in 2014 and defeating Ford, you guys will have Ford`s pretty face to look at down at City Hall until at least 2018.

    • To me this is a problem with the legislation. If it’s wrong for a politician to initiate, speak at, and participate in a vote to absolve themselves of a previous finding of the ethics commissioner and council (which, I’d argue it is), then it shouldn’t be up to an individual voter to bring the case through the courts. Court action may always have to be available as a final remedy, but surely the ethics commissioner or some other non-political body should have had the power to investigate this? Conflict of interest legislation shouldn’t be available to anyone as a political tool, nor should it be able to be seen as such.

      • Rob Ford had so many warnings about this action, whether they were through the integrity commissioner, the Speaker or other councilors. Crean, Bussin, Nunziata, Holyday, Mammoliti and Thompson have all gone on record that they have warned Ford about potential conflicts of interest. In February, 2011, he ignored them all.

        The only reason that this went to court was because of Rob Ford’s absolute refusal to accept that the rules applied to him. The only reason that the judge ruled in the way that he did was because of Rob Ford’s absolute refusal to admit that he did anything wrong. The judge’s verdict and the court transcripts clearly show that a) the judge gave Ford every possible opportunity to show that there was no pecuniary interest, or that the action was inadvertent, b) Rob Ford refused to take advantage of those opportunities and c) given a) and b), the judge had no choice in his decision, and applied the minimum sentence that he could apply.

        You’re right, Matt. The court action should be a last resort. However, it did not occur as a result of the failings of the integrity commissioner or other councilors. It occurred because of the failure of the mayor.

    • “Yesterday even the Toronto Star said Ford would probably win an election if it would be held today”.

      Only if more than one person runs against Ford. Any individual opponent would beat Ford head-to-head, according to multiple other polls. And, if the system described in the article above was used, Smitherman would have beaten Ford to 50%, I would wager, as I would doubt that a majority of Pantalone supporters would have chosen Ford as their number 2.

      • Ford got 47.1% of the vote in the 2010 Election running against 39 other candidates.

        I`m sure he could get another 3% if he were running against one other candidate.

        By the way, do you really think you can limit the number of people who run for Mayor—I suppose you could, but that would be a dictatorship or something along those lines.

        • Smitherman (at 35.6%) and Pantalone (at 11.7%) combined got 47.3% of the vote. Considering my initial statement (that I would doubt that Pantalone supporters would go to Ford) and that none of the remaining 36 candidates got more than 0.62% (the closest was Rossi, who had dropped out), I would guess that Smitherman would have gotten to 50% much more quickly than Ford, once Pantalone numbers were distributed to their number two’s.

          As for restricted mayoral races, one need to go back only to 2006, where Miller (56.97%) and Pitfield (32.32%) shared nearly 90% of the vote in a field of 38. In 2000, only one candidate out of 26, Lastman, was even considered a contender, and he won nearly 80% of the vote. Bet those results make that 47% look a little meagre, don’t they?

          It’s not the number of candidates that matter. It’s the number of “major” candidates; _that_ you can limit. All that takes is for someone to convince an major candidate to drop out of the race. I would suggest to you that if Rossi and Mammoliti had not dropped out, Ford may have lost, because we do know that Ford was the second choice of many of their followers. So it swings both ways.

      • What’s your defination of win? Mine is garnering a majority of votes cast. Using a Ranked Ballot would elect a winner by achieving a majority. Thanks why Toronto should adopt the Rank Ballot so that it may be used for the pending special mayoral election in 2013.

        • Mine too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Please explain how “the left in downtown Toronto” is forcing a by-election. The law, and Ford’s flagrant disregard for it, is what may force a by-election.

      • Only a partisan fool would not think that the left were using any petty excuse to attempt an overthrow of the democratically elected Mayor of Toronto.

        • As far as I have read, the only people calling for the by-election are Robert Bruce Ford and Doug Ford Jr.

          • As far as I can tell, only a partisan fool would think that Ford’s blatant disregard for the law was part of a left-wing conspiracy.

          • Shhhh…let them have their little conspiracy fairy tales. While Ford Nation is busy frothing at the mouth and adjusting their foil hats, we grown-ups can actually get some work done.

  3. The Alternative Vote (the voting system proposed here) does have problems. Federally, Australia requires that voters rank every single candidate on the ballot (they can leave one unranked – it will be considered their last choice). If they fail to do so, e.g. if they rank only 1 or 2 candidates, the ballot doesn’t count. In some Australian states, they have optional preferential (which was also used in Manitoba, BC and Alberta), where voters can rank as many or as few candidates as they want. The problem with that is that many end up treating the ballot as a FPTP ballot by voting for one candidate only – what is called plumping. This can mean that the number of ballots which have 2nd (never mind 3rd, or 4th) preferences can be a fraction of the overall number of ballots cast – greatly reducing the “benefit” of AV. However, forcing voters to rank every candidate is also problematic because many of the candidates are virtual unknowns and people simply have no idea how to rank them – it does force people into “artificial” preferences, as I discussed here: http://thoughtundermined.com/2012/04/03/artificial-preferences/

    • Most Canadian elections in which I’ve voted have around 6 options. Surely most people can number 6 boxes in order of preference!

      I’ve voted in Australian elections where the ballot has over 20 choices, which can make it harder. For lazy or confused voters, the parties provide ‘how to vote’ cards, which they hand to voters entering a polling office. This has a mock ballot sheet numbered according to the preference of the party whose card you accepted.

      I still believe the ranked ballot is the best way to vote. It maximizes voter input, virtually guarantees that the will of the riding majority is respected (you can’t win with a paltry 30% of the vote, you must win more than 50%) and it usually returns majority governments.

  4. The Alternative Vote is fine for electing a mayor. However, I would oppose it for electing our councillors. I would rather have a proportional voting system like the Single Transferable Vote which is ranked ballot but there are multi-member constituencies. The Alternative Vote is not proportional.

    • STV is much more complicated than simple ranked ballots and is therefore much more difficult to achieve. Ranked Ballots are not proportional, but they’re still a heck of a lot fairer than FPTP. And since STV includes a ranked ballot, one could think of Ranked Ballots as a good first step toward larger reform.

      • Actually AV is less fair than FPTP. AV has never been a step to anything but back to FPTP. Australia is the one counter-example. It didn’t revert to FPTP but has stayed with AV since it now has essentially a two-party system where AV makes little difference.

  5. In two short but eventful years, our vacationing, but still-current mayor has become the global poster boy for all that ails 21st century urban mobility.

    And, for the first time in the more than six decades that this reader has lived, played and worked very hard in Canada’s largest city, even I feel that the role of my beloved hometown – as butt of the rest of the nation’s derision – is merited.

    The existing municipal electoral model has helped saddle us with a caricature for civic leader. But the Rob Ford problem also runs much deeper.

    Does anyone contest the idea that FordNation is just HARPERLAND trickling down to the local level? Maybe we should ask Nick Kouvalis. But such partisan involvement is not supposed to be allowed in local Toronto elections.

    A ranked ballot system would be a great start, but so would either allowing municipal party involvement, or strictly enforcing the rules that bar such outsiders from so-influencing Toronto’s future.

    Still, none of this will help if the mainstream electorate remains so disengaged between elections, and so misinformed during them.

    Thanks to Mr. Meslin et al, who continue to push for a more rational way to elect our local representatives.

    By definition, a better Toronto means a stronger Canada.

    Here’s to a merry – yet peaceful – holiday, and a much better 2013 for us all.

    Every one, eh?

    • Actually, I think Toronto has been the butt of the rest of the Nation`s derision long before Rob Ford became Mayor.
      You may choose to move to Montreal.

      If you do not want a Mayor like Ford then stop electing lefty, incompetent, spend-happy mayors like Miller.

      • Maybe reread what I said, Andrew.

        One is well aware that folks who don’t appreciate this city have been running Toronto down for years. It seems an entrenched national pastime for the least creative among us.

        But speaking for those of us who have long led marvellously exciting, fulfilling lives here, we don’t worry much about what stridently ignorant outsiders think.

        Never have. Never will.

        But my friend Rob Ford is a different matter.

        Without the already mentioned outside partisan meddling support and interference, one doubts our tubby tyrant would have had the opportunity to run for mayor, let alone win.

        HARPERLAND’s spin machine vilified Miller, just the way they attacked opposition individuals at the federal level.

        When that rattle-eyed zealotry finally collapses – and the cracks are now big enough to fly an F-35 through – one trusts Ford and his ilk will be barred from positions of power for a generation or more.

        • It appears you have spared enough room in your marvelous exciting and fulfilling life for some annoying and arrogant elitism.
          Let me let you in on a little secret.
          It is exactly your type of exclusive and shallow attitude for those who don`t meet your standards that makes people rush out to the polling booth and send a Rob Ford to City Hall. Half the people want Ford as Mayor just to piss off little lefties like you.
          I do hope you are able to continue in your marvelous and exciting lifestyle for at least the next 6-plus years when you will be graced with the Beauty that is Mayor Ford.

          • Left/right partisans on both sides continue to amaze.

            You folks act as though what you have to say is still relevant. The real problems faced in this day and age affect each and every one of us in much the same manner.

            Check the calendar Andrew, it is almost 2013.

            Investing in the past only makes sense to those still living there, eh?

          • I know who I am. Do you know who you are ?
            Let me help you.
            You are the type who like to pretend you are all about non-partisanship, all about a sweet utopian, all for one, one for all, municipal gov`t.
            But you have nothing but distaste for the 47% of people who voted for Ford. You despise Ford and use hateful phrases to describe an imaginary influence our Federal gov`t may have had on the people who democratically elected him.
            It is almost 2013 and it will be a long time until it is 2018 and Ford will still be Toronto Mayor.
            The re-election of Ford is a backlash by the people against those like yourself who elected incompetents like Miller. Thanks for that.

          • Wrong again, Andrew.

            I’ve known Rob for over over a decade. For years I tried to help him hone his urban transportation message so he wouldn’t sound so stupid.

            I have nothing against the mayor personally but he still has no real idea what the job is or any real interest in finding out. He diminishes our city.

            Rob Ford was not elected King, eh? Despite what Emperor Harper may have told him on that fishing trip.

          • The left-right divide does not exist, as each side is authoritarian on certain issues, libertarian on other issues.

  6. It is not sensible to oppose a ranked ballot to proportional representation. Each functions differently and is useful for a different purpose.

    A ranked ballot makes sense when voting for an office which can be held by a single candidate, such as the mayor of a municipality or the president of the United States.

    It would even make sense as a way of choosing the local MP on the candidate side of a Mixed-Member Proportional Ballot.

    But when electing a chamber of many delegates, especially along party lines, the ranked ballot should not be used except as an accompaniment to the other half (the preferred party half) of a Mixed Member Proportional Ballot.

    A ranked ballot on the candidate side assures the candidate elected as a local representative has at least 50% support in the riding, even if some of it is 2nd or 3rd choice support.

    The party side of the ballot assures that each party is appropriately represented in the House of Commons–quite a different matter.

    • MMPB offers extra power to parties, the dangers of which we can see with the current government. By going solely with STV, we could see a return to a real strength of parliamentary systems, where we would once again be electing a parliament and not a prime minister.

    • AV (ranked ballot) is not a good system for electing even a local representative in an MMP system. It could require more balancing seats because it can be even less proportional than first past the post.

      There is also the problem that it counts people’s second choices as equal to their first. While this is a dubious proposition, AV also does not guaranty a unique winner. It can depend on the order candidates are dropped. That’s why Churchill made his statement about the election being decided by the supporters of the most worthless candidates. It can be the fringe candidate supporters, not the mainstream, who decide the outcome.

  7. fact is you idiots will vote for who ever your told too and when they dont deliver you will do it again and again and again and again.

  8. IMHO, the ranked ballot system is an excellent first step towards making elections fairer and leads to better policy because candidates cannot afford to alienate any significant group of voters. It is relatively easy to implement, should not cost more than current elections, is easy for the voter to understand, and quickly determines a majority candidate without costly and time consuming run off votes.

    The divisiveness, acrimony and polarization of the current FPTP system ensures that many councilors and frequently the mayor are elected with less than 50% of the vote due to vote splitting between multiple candidates. This “less than majority rule” along with ugly tone of elections in order to achieve the requisite vote split are big reasons why the public is becoming disinterested in elections, as seen by the continued downturn in voter turn out over the years. A ranked ballot system would address many of these concerns and stand a good chance of reengaging the public in their municipal gov’t.

    While ranked ballot is admittedly not perfect, it would be easy for Toronto to implement this as a first, positive step towards electoral reform that comes closer to representing the public’s will at the ballot box than the current system. Why don’t we start with that and hopefully make everyone feel like their vote really counts?

    • Well said. I would really like to see Toronto implement a ranked ballot system. We also need to make sure people can understand the powers of the mayor and council — what they can and can’t do — and how and why decisions are made.

    • AV has never led to further reform anywhere in the world. Moreover, Australia’s elections, held under AV are no more polite than Canada’s. In Toronto, councillors are elected with a 65% vote share on average since the megacity was formed. The ones that get less than 50% are unpopular councillors and hotly contested open races. Raising the bar to insist on 50% + 1 votes merely makes it harder to elect women and visible minorities and to unseat poorly performing councillors.

      AV is not a good choice even if you insist on calling it ranked ballot. It still leaves large numbers of voters without their first choice, a shortage of women and visible minority councillors, and the largest groups with all the power. We can do much better.

  9. Ranked ballot systems are working for many other cities, and it’s time for Toronto to get on board. The fact that this system could benefit any candidate along our political spectrum, incumbent or challenger, means it’s a good time to make the change.

    When our preferences matter, each candidate will have to try to win a wider range of approval. With the current system, they try to segment us and find “their people” who will then say “yes” and close our ears to everyone else. That gets one candidate the win but doesn’t prepare us to look hard at the options.

    Toronto is facing big, complicated issues — like transportation and our ageing infrastructure. Getting together behind comprehensive solutions and minimizing the costs involved in making them happen takes two-way communication with representatives who really represent all of us. The current system municipal election system is comfortable and familiar, but it can’t give us that. Our way of choosing our City’s government needs a reboot like ranked balloting.

    • Elections held using AV elect the same people as FPTP 95% of the time. In Toronto, 90% of councillors running for reelection win. AV is properly classified as a phony reform because it actually achieves the same results as FPTP. In Toronto it would merely solidify the stranglehold councillors have on their seats. We need real reform, not just another winner take all system.

  10. First past the Post (FPTP) is an antiquated, simplistic single option ballot that only works when you must choose between 2 candidates. Given the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Greens at least contest ridings we usually have several choices. Under FPTP this means it’s possible to win a riding with 30% of the vote or less – producing a winner that 70% of the constituents voted against. The result is that First Past the Post often distorts and disrespects the will of the voters in a given riding promoting voter apathy and cynicism. Parties which rely on the apathy of rival party supporters tend to prefer this kind of vote.

    From what I can see Proportional Representation (PR) is just FPTP with a post-ballot fudge that attempts to fix the distortion caused by the same single option vote. It does this by topping up a party’s ‘% seats won’ to match ‘% vote won’ by appointing party-chosen ‘list candidates’, using voters’ choice of a party along with one candidate. List candidates are likely to be unelectable party ‘sacred cows’, who would sit and vote in The House without ever having won election – representing no riding, only the party.. PR frequently returns minorities which can be unstable (Italy), lead to awkward or undesirable coalitions (Israel), or to grand coalitions which produce emasculated legislation to satisfy each of the coalition partners (Germany). I personally believe PR is preferred by some political parties because it gives them (but not voters) more influence in the outcome

    A better alternative is the Preferential Vote (Ranked Ballot, Instant Runoff) where each voter numbers candidates in their order of preference. A candidate can only win with more than 50% of the vote, by the accumulation of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and other preferences. The will of the majority of voters in a riding is always respected, unlike FPTP and PR. The voter is expected to provide a more sophisticated (i.e. a ranked) input than merely an [X] and so has more input in the outcome. Nobody can tell a Green supported their vote will be ‘wasted’ unless they vote for a big party. There are no appointed ‘party flacks’ – every candidate wins only by voter support.

    The Preferential Vote has been used in Australia since the 1930s and has returned majority governments except in 1940 and 2010. I’ve lived under this and it works well. They also have Compulsory Voting down there and typically get 90% voter turnout, while Canada struggles to get 60%.

    This is how all elections should be conducted in Canada IMHO.

    • While AV may allow people to vote for minor parties, it doesn’t allow their votes to turn into seats the way proportional representation does.

      You’re right that it does produce even more phony majorities than First Past the Post (FPTP), but that doesn’t seem like a benefit to me. Besides Australia has had essentially a two-party system for a long time, so that it’s easy to get a phony majority government.

      Like FPTP, AV gives you a local candidate that you have to vote for if you want that party to win the election. This means that party hacks get dropped into safe seats while the best candidates often end up in contested ridings against star candidates from the other party. All winner-take-all systems end up electing fewer good candidates than dregs because of this.

      Proportional systems (of which the MMP system you describe is just one), on the other hand, put their best candidates on their lists. The quality of the party lists is a selling point for the party. They can’t stock their lists with party hacks. Moreover, the lists ensures that the best candidates from all parties get elected, which is what we should want.

      Australia uses a proportional system, STV, to elect the senate and it does much better in electing women and candidates from smaller parties. Australia should extend it to their House of Representatives. Maybe then it could start electing visible minority candidates.

      When you face a penalty for not voting, as Australia imposes, getting 90% turnout isn’t difficult. I suggest that the reason 10% of the voters don’t bother is because they are so fed up with the awful AV system. Moreover, Australia also is a world leader in spoiled ballots. Not much to be proud of.

  11. Yes please to ranked balloting in Toronto municipal elections. It would create positive campaigns in which the result would better represent which candidates the electorate would like to represent them. Seems like a no-brainer.

    • No evidence for this. Australian campaigns under AV are no more polite than other nations that use other systems. If you want polite campaigns based on issues, you need some form of proportional representation. Besides, why should someone’s second choice count the same as their first? If you want the most popular candidates to be elected, you again need some of proportional representation.

  12. Ranked ballot voting would also be good for choosing councilors as well as the mayor, as it makes each politician campaign in a much more positive way – they have to try to win the support of many voters, rather than campaign with excessive negative comments about their opponents. This will force the politicians to campaign on issues rather than anger, and that is a welcome thought in my books!

  13. The Alternative Vote system is just another winner take all system. It’s never been a step toward a fair voting system. Quite the opposite, it’s failure in use has been an excuse to remove better voting systems a province reversion to first past the post – such as happened in Manitoba where AV was once used in most ridings but STV was used in urban ridings.

    One fact that’s been shown everywhere AV is used is that it rarely changes the outcomes. 95% of races go to the first round leader. When the outcomes are changed, it often produces less proportional results than even first past the post. It amplifies the voices of the largest groups and silences minorities even worse than our current system.

    Had Calgary used AV, Naheed Nenshi would have lost to one of the right wing candidates while Ford would have won in Toronto under any system. In Australia, AV rarely elects visible minority candidates and it appears to also hurt the chances of women candidates relative to even our current system.

    As H.L. Mencken could have said about AV, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” There is a reason why AV is rarely used to elect anyone and that is it really is a bad system. We can and must do better.

  14. If you believe this is one of those irrelevant issues voters don’t care about, ask yourself these three questions:

    1.) Do you believe it’s fair a mayor can get elected with 40% of the vote, and a councillor elected with less than 20%?
    2.) Are you tired of campaigns where the candidates’ main strategies is to ‘pull out their vote, get to their voters and make sure they vote’?
    3.) Would it be better to have more than one choice if more than one candidate appeals to your preferences?

    If YOUR answer to all three questions is ‘Yes’, then go ask others. I’m sure they will have the exact same answer. And if enough people say ‘Yes’ to these proposals, then it is going to be fairly tough for those in office to ignore the voters’ pleas.

    And my message to those politicians who are afraid to make this reform, there’s no guarantee that this will eventually lead to your defeat. In fact, you might even pick up more votes and gain a majority if you happen to be one of those ‘under 50%ers’. That is, if you are willing to change your style of campaigning to not only include ‘your supporters’.

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