Cavan Monaghan To Explore Use of Ranked Ballots for 2018 Election

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At their November 21st meeting, Council agreed to investigate the option of using ranked ballots in the selection of municipal candidates in 2018. Recent changes to the Municipal Elections Act introduced this option for the selection of municipal candidates but not for School Board Trustees.

Ranked ballots allow a voter to identify candidates in their order of preference, rather than selecting a single candidate in the current system which is known as a First-past-the-post (FPTP). The ranked ballot system provides voters with a greater say in who is elected and is also reported to increase voter engagement.  Supporters of this system suggest that it also reduces the occurrence of strategic voting, where voters avoid casting their ballot for their preferred candidate if they perceive this person has a low chance of success. Negative campaigning is also less likely to occur under this system because voters select multiple candidates rather than making an either/or decision. It also reduces the threat of “splitting the vote”, which results in a higher probability of candidates remaining in the race until voting day.

Before a voting system is changed, municipalities must consider the voter interest, the costs of implementing it, and the availability of required technology to do so. In the last municipal election, Cavan Monaghan introduced telephone and internet voting which was administered by the contractor Simply Voting. A recent vote determined that paper ballots will be eliminated in the 2018 election and the township will rely on a contractor like this firm to administer the next election. Simply Voting has confirmed that the system they use has the capacity to administer ranked ballots and that they have experience administering this voting method. They can do so for the township at no incremental cost in 2018 municipal contest.

Prior to passing a by-law to adopt this new voting system, the municipality must hold at least one open house to provide the public with information about the proposed changes, as well as one public meeting to gather voter feedback about the proposal. The by-law to implement such a change must be made prior to May 2017 for the next election scheduled for October 22, 2018.

Expect to see notices of these sessions to discuss the proposed change early in the new year. KG

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