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Ranked ballot, or first-past-the-post? Electoral reform on tonight's agenda

City council’s general committee meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday
(via Thinkstock)

While an election may feel like a long way off, Barrie city council will get to work on Monday to start considering changing the way local citizens can cast a ballot.

General committee will be discussing a staff report prepared by Wendy Cooke, city clerk, providing information on the possibility of switching to a ranked ballot method for the City of Barrie’s next municipal election.

“In the past, municipalities were required to conduct elections using the plurality or first-past-the-post system, where the candidate who receives the highest number of votes wins,” wrote Cooke in her report.

According to the report, municipalities were provided the option to pass a bylaw to use ranked ballots to elect members of council starting in 2018. Ranked ballots allow a voter to rank candidates in order of preference, instead of just voting for one candidate in the traditional first-past-the-post system.

In order for a winner to be declared under a ranked ballot system, all the first-choice votes are added up. If a candidate receives 50 per cent of the votes plus one, they are declared the winner.

If a winner is not declared by this method, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated, and those voters’ second choices would then be counted.

This process is repeated until a winner can be declared with 50 per cent plus one vote.

In order for the city to pass a bylaw to change the system, council will consider costs and technology requirements that would be involved, as well as the impact on election administration.

The city would be required to hold at least one open house to provide the public with an opportunity to review information on the process and ask questions.

The municipality must also hold a public meeting to allow the public to speak to council about the proposed bylaw.

If city council opts to change the voting system, a bylaw must be passed no later than May 1 - one year prior to the 2022 election. 

City council’s general committee meeting will be taking place on Monday at 7 p.m. via livestream.

Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings nine years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering county matters, court, Collingwood and Barrie matters
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