Ontario moving to eliminate municipal ranked ballot option
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DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA: The Ontario provincial government is attempting to deny municipalities the ability to use ranked ballots in the next municipal election. If passed, the recently proposed ‘Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act’ would make changes to the Municipal Elections Act to remove the option for municipalities to use a ranked ballot system for elections of township, city or regional councils. A provincial press release explains this measure is intended to make “the electoral process consistent across municipal, provincial and federal elections.” Ranked ballots involve voters ranking candidates by preference from highest to lowest. Votes are then tallied, and if no candidate has reached the threshold of 50 per cent plus one, on the first choice count, then the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated and votes are allocated to candidates based on voters’ second choice. The process continues until one candidate meets the threshold to win. However, in explaining the decision to remove the ranked balloting option, Premier Doug Ford said the ‘first past the post’ system is preferable at this time. “We’ve been voting this way since 1867. We don’t need any more complications on ranked ballots. We’re just going to do it the same way as we’ve been doing it since 1867, first past the post. [Voters] don’t have to be confused, it’s very simple, and that’s what we’re moving forward on,” the Premier said, at a press conference on Wednesday, October 21st. Ranked ballots were introduced as an option for municipalities in 2016 by the provincial party in power at the time, the Ontario Liberal government.