Burlington will ask voters to advise on ranked ballots

Published September 29, 2020 at 7:08 pm

Burlington is going to ask the public what it thinks about ranked ballots.

Burlington is going to ask the public what it thinks about ranked ballots.

Councillors decided today to throw the question out to residents before deciding how votes will be counted during the next municipal election in 2022.

The process will take some time to unfold and how the consultation takes place has not yet been decided. However, the process must be completed by May of next year, according to provincial rules.

In a ranked ballot system, voters have the option of selecting up to three candidates, ranking them by preference of their first, second, and third choice. The candidate who achieves the threshold of 50 per cent plus one vote is elected. After tabulating the votes, if there is no candidate who meets the 50 per cent plus one threshold, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The ballots that selected the eliminated candidate as the first choice are now redistributed to the remaining candidates, this time using those voters’ second choice candidate. This process is repeated until a candidate who achieves the 50 per cent plus one threshold is met. Some believe this system better represents the desire of voters. Under the system used historically in Canada, election winners are those who simply receive the most votes.

“I look forward to hearing the community’s thoughts on the option of ranked ballots as early as the 2022 election,” said Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.With a ranked ballot system, every vote truly counts. Whoever is elected will have received some measure of support from a majority of voters. This has the potential to increase voter confidence in the representation they have on City council, and in turn increase voter turnout. Democracy is a fundamental right in our community and I support continued discussions around changes that can potentially make it better.”

After the public consultation process City council will decide whether to move forward with the new voting procedure.

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