Oakville Embraces in Theory of Ranked Balloting & Modernization of the Municipal Elections Act

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Oakville Embraces in Theory of Ranked Balloting & Modernization of the Municipal Elections Act
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Nolan A Machan

Nolan A Machan

Nolan Machan is the Publisher of OakvilleNews.Org and has over 41 years of local Oakville knowledge. He is committed to providing Oakville residents with the most up-to-date information about our great town.

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Bill 181, Municipal Elections Modernization Act, 2016 has passed second reading at Queen’s Park and is currently under consideration by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. The proposed changes, if passed, give municipalities the authority to pass a by-law to use ranked ballot voting, beginning in the 2018 municipal elections.

Ranked ballots would allow a voter to rank candidates in order of preference and replace “first-past-the-post” vote counting. Here is how ranked balloting works. If one of the candidates does not receive 50 percent plus one, then the last place candidate drops off. The people who voted for the dropped candidate, their second place candidate will be used. This process will continue until one candidate receives a majority.

Different names for ranked balloting are alternative vote, instant runoff, and or single transferable vote. This system has been adopted by the following cities in the US: Minneapolis, Oakland, Sarasota, Santa Fe, Memphis and St. Paul. In Ontario the following cities have started to look at this proposal: Toronto, Barrie, and Ottawa. Other organizations that are currently using ranked balloting are: Academy Awards to choose best picture; the National Hockey League to choose several of its players’ awards; and the National Basketball League uses it to choose their top player award.

Municipalities that choose to pursue the option of implementing ranked ballots will be required to hold at least one public meeting; and municipalities would have the power to hold a referendum to determine public sentiment for the ranked ballot option.

The bill seeks to give all municipalities the option to ban corporate and union donations; and also proposes to shorten the campaign calendar by opening nominations for candidates on May 1st instead of January 1st. Bill 181 would create a framework to regulate third-party advertising, including contribution and spending limits; make campaign finance rules clearer and easier to follow for voters, candidates and contributors. Finally the bill would remove barriers that could affect electors and candidates with disabilities, as well as make it easier to add or change information on the voters’ list.

The Oakville’s Town Councillors and Mayor support the intent of Bill 181 to modernize the Municipal Elections Act and will undertake consultation with Oakville residents when the framework and details for ranked ballot elections are set out in the regulation. Moved by Allan Elgar and seconded by Tom Adams. Motion passed on Monday May 2, 2016.

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