Town council scraps ranked balloting for 2018 election, other changes coming

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has scrapped any idea of using a ranked balloting system for the 2018 municipal election but other changes are coming thanks to the province.

The town will stick with the “first past the post” system of voting, the same method it has traditionally used and also had in the 2014 election. Ontario Regulation 310/16, approved Sept. 16, 2016, established procedures and standards for such an option with administration bringing it to town council’s attention Feb. 13.

Under a single-member ranked ballot election, winning candidates must receive 50 per cent of the total votes plus one. According to a report from clerk Paula Parker, electors rank the candidates in order of preference including first choice, second choice and third choice, etc., with candidates receiving at least 50 per cent plus one, he or she is elected.

“If no candidate receives the required majority of the votes, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the ballots are recounted according to the next choice marked on each of the eliminated candidate’s ballots,” Parker’s report explains. “This process continues until one candidate’s has enough votes to be declared the winner.”

If such a system were to be in place in the 2014 election, only the office of mayor, deputy mayor an done councillor would have been decided on the first vote.

Council members worried it would cause confusion if it were implemented for the 2018 election.

“I think we should look at it closer before we do anything with it,” said Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale.

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Parker said that ranked balloting has yet to be used in Canada and isn’t popularly used in the United States.

“There really isn’t a lot of examples out there right now,” she told the RTT last Friday.

The report had to be brought to council for consideration as council has to weigh issues such as the cost of the election, the availability of technology and impacts on election administration, voting equipment and voting methods.

A report is expected to come to council in April detailing voting methods and asking council how they would like to proceed in next year’s election. Council can choose the traditional method used in 2014, can return to voting by mail, or council may consider electronic or phone methods.

“That bylaw has to be passed by May 1 so council has to decide what they want to do for the 2018 election,” said Parker.

A major change for the 2018 election is a reduction of the nomination period. Whereas candidates could file from the first business day in January to the second Friday of September, new legislation sees the 2018 nomination period lasting from May 1 to July 27, 2018.

Another change is that candidates now have to be endorsed by 25 people before they can officially get on the ballot.

Parker said the 2018 election will be going on the town’s website – www.amherstburg.ca – and the town hall Twitter feed @Aburg_TownHall.

The next municipal election will be Oct. 22, 2018.

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