In Support of Ottawa123 and Ranked Ballots

Kevin O'Donnell
2014-10-03 12:56

Thank you for visiting my OttWatch project. It's something I created to make it easier for people to participate in city politics. The good kind of politics. The kind where people find out their local government is about to make a decision and get involved to make that decision better. Any kind of better.

Now let me tell you about another project I'm involved in. is dedicated to having Ottawa switch from "first-past-the-post" to "ranked ballots" during elections.

It is both a small change and a big change.

The small change is instead of voting for one candidate, with an X, you can vote for as many candidates as you like using a 1, 2, 3, and so on. You know what you like. You know who you like best. You know you else you like. Now you get to rank candidates in the order you'd like to see them win.

The big changes are many and diverse. The website has all the details so I won't repeat them here. But I believe ranked ballots will lead to more meaningful elections where more ideas are discussed. More women will run. There will be no more strategic voting because you always get to vote for who you like best then pick someone else too, free of the fear someone you dislike will win with just 35% of the vote.

As citizens it is our duty to vote. It's also our duty to demand changes to how we vote when it's clear there are better options. First-past-the-post has problems. One example is when Shawn Little won an election in 2003 with only 27% of the vote. He won the previous election with 47% of the vote. It is clear a majority of residents were dissatisfied with the 2003 outcome.

We shouldn't tolerate this when electing a government that oversees $3 billion a year in spending. Billion. With a B.

The Ontario Government will amend the Municipal Elections Act to enable cities to use Ranked Ballots in the 2018 election, but will not insist cities switch.

That is our job.

It makes me happy when people use OttWatch to discover and connect with their city government.

It would make me very happy if you'd support and demand the next Council, the one we will elect on October 27th, move to ranked ballots for the 2018 election.

Curious how ranked ballots work? My contribution to the Ottawa123 effort was to create a Ranked Ballot Simulator so you can see it in action. Pick your favourite "mock" candidate, then your second favourite and so on. Afterwards you can see how your candidates faired, and how the overall election was decided after each round of instant-runoff voting.

After we are successful and Ottawa uses ranked ballots for the first time in 2018 we'll look back and wonder, "Why did we ever do it any other way?"

Kevin O'Donnell creator contributor

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