Provincial Government to Ban Ranked Ballots

On Tuesday, the Ford Government tabled legislation that if passed would repeal the ability of Ontario cities to run elections using ranked ballots. Ranked ballots allow voters to select candidates in a preferred order and would require a candidate to get a majority of the overall vote to be declared the winner. The “first past the post” system, simply requiring more votes anyone else to win, can lead to the election of candidates with relatively few votes in a crowded field. Most political parties, including the Ontario PCs, use this system to elect party leaders.

Toronto had been moving towards a ranked ballot system after several supportive votes in Council, most recently just one month ago. The cities of Kingston and Cambridge had adopted the system following referenda, while London, Ontario successfully used the system in its 2018 municipal election. All will be forced by the Province to revert to the old system.

The provision is, somewhat strangely, included as part of the province’s COVID-19 relief omnibus bill. The government is saying that due to the pandemic, cities should not be wasting their money on investigating ranked ballots, and that the money could be better spent on COVID relief. The latest City Council decision in Toronto however, delayed the use of ranked ballots for the 2026 election following extensive public consultation as a result of the pandemic.