The Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto (RaBIT) is a non-partisan, independent, grass-roots, advocacy group working to bring ranked ballots to Toronto’s municipal elections.
We believe that by adopting ranked ballots for Toronto municipal elections, we can make our elections more fair and friendly.
An incorporated nonprofit organisation, RaBIT is led by a working volunteer board of directors.
The History of RaBIT
Originally founded by “community choreographer” Dave Meslin, RaBIT was born out of an earlier, city-wide dialogue called “Better Ballots” that explored potential improvements to municipal politics in Toronto. Held in spring of 2010, community members voted for “instant runoff voting,” or ranked ballots, as their top choice for electoral reform in the city. RaBIT formed after these consultations to advocate for ranked ballots in time for the 2014 municipal elections.
Pressure from RaBIT as an advocacy group helped to ensure that the option for municipal ranked ballot elections was included in the Ontario Liberal Party’s 2014 election platform. In 2015 we became a registered not-for-profit organization, and participated in the Ranked Ballot Implementation Working Group that was struck to advise the Government of Ontario on the implementation of ranked ballots. RaBIT has also helped organize a number of "ranked ballot summits” that have drawn participants from across Ontario and North America.
Over the years, RaBIT has continued to advocate and grow: we launched an online petition in 2016, and supported the use of ranked ballots for WillowWood School’s student council elections as a demonstration project using the ElectionBuddy app in 2017.
2018 was a big year for ranked ballots and RaBIT: we celebrated London, Ontario’s highly successful move to ranked ballots for their election, and ran a candidate pledge campaign for Toronto’s municipal election. Overall, 98 candidates for councillor and mayor took our pledge to support ranked ballots for the 2022 election. In the end, 14 candidates were elected, representing a majority of the Council (including mayor John Tory) supporting ranked ballots.
RaBIT continued to advocate for voting reform after the election by working with the newly created Special Committee on Governance: we helped to drive engagement with the Committee’s public consultation process, and supported Councillor Shelley Carroll’s motion to have city staff report back on how to move towards implementation for 2022, which was successfully adopted.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, RaBIT supported Councillor Carroll again in successfully fending off a last-ditch attempt by opponents of voting reform to abandon progress towards ranked ballots. Unfortunately, this success was short-lived as the Ontario Government imposed a ban on the use of ranked ballots for municipal elections later that year.
Despite this setback, RaBIT continues to successfully prepare Toronto for what we believe is an inevitable shift to improved democracy. In 2021, we supported the City of Toronto’s plan to purchase new voting equipment, with a focus on ensuring that they were capable of running ranked ballot elections in the future. This plan was adopted by Council in December 2021, meaning that one of the main obstacles to using ranked ballots in Toronto has been removed.
RaBIT continues to advocate for the ability of municipalities to choose whether or not to use ranked ballots for their elections, with the goals of having the Ontario Government reinstate the option after the 2022 provincial election, and bringing ranked ballots to Toronto’s election in 2026.
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