On Wednesday, 27 November, 2019, Toronto City Council voted, by a 14 to 11 margin, in favour of Councillor Shelley Carroll’s motion to learn more about ranked ballots.
This is a huge step forward for ranked ballots in Toronto, because Councillor Carroll’s motion has initiated the process that the Municipal Elections Act requires be completed before a switch to ranked ballots is legally possible. This includes providing city council and the public with certain specific information (such as how much it would cost to implement ranked ballots in Toronto) as well as a set of minimum public consultation requirements (such as the holding of an informational “open house” and a public meeting).
This is a momentous development because, once these steps are completed, we are just one vote at city council away from Toronto adopting ranked ballots for its municipal elections.
But it also means that those of us who support ranked ballots have our work cut out for us. While we managed to win this most recent vote, councillors were actually only voting on whether to gather information about ranked ballots and consult the public. Now we need to mobilize so that once these consultations begin, each and every councillor hears loud and clear just how strong public support for ranked ballots really is. We need your help to make that happen.
Consultations were meant to have taken place over the course of summer 2020. As with so many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned these plans upside down and delayed their start. This pandemic represents a severe crisis for many Torontonians, including many RaBIT volunteers and supports. Consequently, our work has slowed down significantly in the past few months as many of us have focused on overcoming our own challenges and helping family, friends, and neighbours in need.
Despite these challenges, we understand that city staff will soon be presenting city council with a revised plan for how to move forward with public consultations on ranked ballots. This plan will likely be made public at the end of September and we will update this page as more information becomes available.
Resources and Projects
When this happens, we know that we need to be ready so that the decade-plus of work that our community has put into winning these consultations is not squandered. Work is already under way on a number of projects designed to empower supporters of ranked ballots and ensure that they have the resources and information they need to make their voices heard loud and clear when the times come.
The first of these projects to be completed is a “City Council Vote Tracker” which tracks how each member of city council has voted on all ranked ballot motions brought before city council and its committees, as well as whether they took RaBIT’s “Candidate Pledge” during the 2018 election campaign. We hope this chart is helpful to you as you hold your own representatives accountable.
We have also just released an “Introduction to Ranked Ballots” document which provides an accessible summary of what ranked ballots are, how they work, and why we should use them here in Toronto. The document also includes links to other resources and up-to-date in-depth research that demonstrates how ranked ballots have helped drive significant improvements elsewhere.
Additional tools and resources will be made available as they are completed and will be added to this page. If you have any ideas for how best we can support our community through this process, please get in touch at [email protected]
The Final Few Steps
We've made incredible progress to get to this point. Ten years ago, ranked ballots were nowhere on anyone in Toronto's political radar. Five years ago, using them for municipal elections was still not even legal in Ontario. Three years ago, the majority of City Council opposed even asking the public if they wanted them. But at every step of the way, we have overcome obstacles and shown decision-makers that Torontonians want ranked ballots. We've been saying it a lot lately, but we've never been closer than we are now to winning voting reform for our city. We hope you'll help take this next critical step with us.