Eliminates Vote Splitting
Under our current system, people spend more time talking about potential vote splitting then they do talking about the issues. Headlines are dominated by stories about who is dropping out, who is stealing votes from who, etc. With runoff voting, there is no such thing as vote splitting.
Ensures Majority Support
Under our current system, a candidate can 'win' an election with only 20% support. In 2006, seven incumbent Councillors were returned to office, even though most of their constituents didn't want them back.
Discourages Negative Campaigning
Under our current system, candidates often attack each other, throwing insults and accusations in an effort to discredit their opponents. With runoff voting, these tactics work against you. To win a runoff, you have to appeal to a larger audience - including your opponents' supporters, in the hope that they might rank you second. This means more positive debates, and a more respectful discussion.
Provides More Choice For Voters
Under our current system, candidates are often forced to drop out of the race to avoid vote-splitting. Potential candidates are discouraged from entering the race. This happens at the local level, with young eager candidates being asked not to run by their own colleagues. This is the exact opposite experience we want young candidates to have. With runoff voting, new voices would be welcomed and encouraged. This would lead to more choice, more voices, more engagement, and more diversity.
Since the passing of Bill 181 the province of Ontario is establishing a framework for how ballots will be counted.
The system that we are proposing is called 'Ranked Choice Voting'. This system uses ranked ballots, also known as 'preferential ballots'. Despite all the confusing names, the concept is quite simple and is already used in a variety of elections across Canada and the world. Voters simply mark their choice on the ballot, ranking the candidates in order of preference. It's easy as 1,2,3! A ranked ballot system will allow Whitby constituents to vote with their conscience, putting aside vote splitting, and ensuring that their representatives garner at least 50% + 1 of the vote.
Whitby has both single member districts (wards) and a multi-member district (regional council). Voting functions the same for each and currently elects through a First-past-the-post method. Runoff voting is a small and simple change, that requires no amendments to current Whitby ward boundaries or the structure of Council.
What can I do?
Municipalities have a number of choices in the way in which voting works. They may make decisions on how voters cast their ballots in addition to how they are counted. By default in municipal elections voters in Ontario cast their vote in person at their locally assigned voting poll. However, the Municipal Elections Act allows municipalities to decide to use alternative voting methods to cast ballots, and many municipalities have already decided to do so. One of the most popular examples is allowing for voters to have the option of voting online, by mail or via telephone which provides increased access to those who for a variety of reasons may be unable to reach the physical polls.
Ontario has committed to providing municipalities with the option of using ranked ballots in future elections, starting in 2018, as an alternative to the current system.