Category:electoral reform

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There is at present no real discussion of New Brunswick electoral reform. However, PEI electoral reform has been subject to two referenda, the latter of which had five options and fairly decisively rejected IRV for PEI provincial elections. Nova Scotia electoral reform has been subject of only one proposal, that by the NDP-NS to implement some form of mixed-member proportional if they win a majority, with no referendum. This didn't occur, and similar promises by other NDP provincial governments have never resulted in any such reform. As of 2018 electoral reform efforts focus on British Columbia, which is holding a two-stage referendum similar to that in New Zealand, first seeking a simple majority to move to a more party-proportional representation system, and then a second (which may be multiple choice) referendum on which such system to adopt.

Unfortunately, since the first stage does not rule out any particular system with a Gallagher index higher than FPTP (the generally accepted measure of party proportionality), literally every argument against any specific voting system can be employed by the "no" side, such as the largely fallacious & false claims made in the BC 2009 referendum about single transferable vote ( FAQ) and the more legitimate claims made in PEI 2005 [1] against closed party list systems.

finding electoral reform news[edit]

2018-19 actions you can get involved in[edit]

Springtide Collective has a good summary of the ballots and electoral maps for various systems, an accompanying paper about these, and has initiated a Charter Challenge for Fair Voting or CC4FV. It is known by that hashtag #CC4FV on Twitter.


The BC legislature debated Bill 6 - 2017 setting a new framework for electoral reform that featured:

  • mail-in ballot as used in PEI & Australia
  • 50%+1 threshold whether there are two (yes/no) or more (ranked) options on the final ballot
  • binding result


As a result the BC electoral reform referendum, 2018 (PR4BC) [3] offered a choice of

and voting is open until November 30, 2018.

Unlock Democracy (Ontario municipal)[edit]

To date only Unlock Democracy has had any success however at reform, & only at municipal level. Their website and model municipal act, Ontario's Bill 181 are the best source regarding ranked ballot options for non-partisan elections. These make it simpler to implement STV and similar provincial & federal options, but are often opposed by MMP advocates who prefer a non-ranked ballot.

new to electoral reform ?[edit]

Start with electoral reform terms - how to talk about the problem. It's not obvious, and most terminology used by advocates is very slanted. One of the few relatively neutral - though lengthy - accounts of advantages and disadvantages of systems is is this from Electoral Knowledge Network which has translated materials into other languages also.

See why Canadian electoral referenda fail for an analysis of why electoral reform at the provincial level has reliably failed in Canada, and why Fair Vote leadership has been futile.

See voting system values and the frustrated voter for the basic description of the values and methods that electoral reform cites to define the problem, and employs to solve it.

municipal reform Ontario 2016[edit]

Municipal reform is the most advanced, thanks to [4] which advanced electoral reform for large ON municipalities. A bill was introduced years ago and passed in ON. As of April 2016, Ontario is now debating Bill 181 to allow AV/RCV/IRV for Mayors, AV/RCV/IRV or STV for Councils. "AV" is a very poor choice of abbreviation that seems designed to prevent discussion of approval votes, which is the only other system applicable to non-party-labelled elections. One should be generally suspicious of any literature using "AV" to describe what is officially called RCV in Canada and IRV in the United States, or which uses "winner take all" as if it were an academic category.

Being party-less, by design, and there being no public demand for parties at the municipal level, there's really only a choice between FPTP and AV/RCV/IRV voting (really AV is a very poor abbreviation as it confuses with approval voting) for Mayor, with STV as the only option for party-less councils. So these systems will be in the mix for a reformed municipal level, period.

PEI non-binding plebescite 2016[edit]

In October-November 2016 PEI held the most sophisticated referendum ever in North America, a choice between five different systems in which voters used a five-option ranked ballot. Two unique options were presented:

  • "First past the post plus leaders" which works similarly to first past the post, except party leaders would not be required to run in a district. Instead, an additional seat would be created in the legislature for the leader of each party that obtained at least ten per cent of the overall popular vote." - [5]
  • "Dual member proportional representation" in which "parties would put forward either one or a team of two candidates (primary and secondary) in each district. Electors would mark just one "X" on their ballot, as they do now, for their preferred party's candidate to represent their district. Where parties run two candidates, electors would vote for them both together. One seat in each district is awarded to the primary candidate of the party that receives the most votes in the district (just like first past the post). The second seat in each district is awarded on a proportional basis, based on the overall popular vote. Elections PEI says this would usually be the candidate with the second-highest vote total in the district. Elections PEI also says under this system, most districts would be represented by MLAs from two different parties." - [6]

Surprisingly, single transferable vote was not presented, and IRV/AV was called "preferential ballot" desipte the fact that both systems use a preferential ranked ballot. This was a major problem with this referendum leaving its results open to some challenge. Especially given that in BC in 2005 there was >57% support for such a system.

More constructively, 16 year olds were allowed to vote, and there were a variety of ways to vote including online and in person balloting.

PEI failed referendum 2005[edit]

PEI held a failed electoral reform referendum considering only MMP vs. FPTP, in 2005, with only 36% support for change. Being the smallest province it was widely believed that if MMP were to be appropriate anywhere it would be in PEI, yet the results were worse than the Ontario referendum on the same system two years later which also did not break 37%. Why PEI chose the status quo / FPTP, or why Ontario did, has not been a serious subject of discussion, with most reform advocates claiming a "lack of education". This view however was decisively proven wrong by the results of the 2005 and 2009 BC referenda, where an identical system (STV) presented twice dropped 20% in support the second time.

As of 2006 media sources described the topic as "toxic" in PEI as the two major parties were against it. The major arguments of "the no side" covered: the precise role of Island- wide list candidates and how the parties would still dominate the electoral process (and selections or ”œappointments” to the party lists), the d’Hondt formula for apportioning list seats, potential loss of rural districts, political uncertainty of unending minority governments and compromises and lack of accountability. Rhetoric employed included:

  • ”the biggest concern is the reduced value placed on the citizen’s right to vote directly for the candidate of their choice”
  • ”the present proposal presents more problems than it solves.”
  • ”political parties are given much more power ”” while voters lose the power to choose,”
  • ”MMP creates two classes of MLAs ”” 10 appointed and accountable to political parties and 17 elected and accountable to voters,”
  • ”MMP would result in minority governments on an on-going basis through the D’Hondt method”
  • ”it would encourage proliferation of small special interest parties since only 10 (same as list) candidates are required in order to achieve party status.”


DMP was also an option in the PEI electoral reform referendum, 2016 [7] and finished third against first past the post and the (bare) winner mixed-member proportional (which it strongly resembles). DMP will not appear on the 2019 PEI referendum ballot [8] starting on October 29, 2019.

NB cancelled referendum 2008[edit]

NB cancelled a planned referendum for May 2008, in part due to the Ontario results proving it likely premature, and the proposed FPTP vs. MMP choices irrelevant and inappropriate.

NS reform discussion 2016[edit] [9]] has released an April 2016 discussion paper that compares various systems also explained generally in videos below, with specific NS district maps applicable to each. It applies a list of criteria to voting that differ from those voting system values apparent from actual experience in Canadian referenda. It also seems to omit certain advantages of first past the post such as clean sweeping of an unpopular government, a feature David Cameron (the main defender of FPTP in the English speaking world) has made a focus of his advocacy in defense of that system.

Nor does it deal with hybrid voting systems that have some of the strengths of the named systems, which seems fair because they are not used yet anywhere to elect representatives. But some of which solve certain difficult Canadian constitutional problems like the inability to apply a fixed threshold for funding per vote (which can easily be understood as a precedent to also not be able to apply a fixed threshold for seats, as those come with funding and of course actual power). For an example of a system that solves such problems see BSTV+C+L (an STV variant) and Bioregional_Approval_Vote_with_Regionally-Weighted_Open_List. For a neutral introduction to ballot types without tying them to a particularly counting or districting system, see the_frustrated_voter which outlines a somewhat wider range of ballot types for those interested in systems that have not (yet) been used to elect representatives.

New to electoral reform?[edit]

Some explanatory videos relevant to Canadian federal electoral reform and Ontario municipal election reform, 2018 and PR4BC (which provides a model for the Maritimes):

electoral reform terms - how to talk about the problem

History and use of the single transferable vote - Wikipedia