The Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto (RaBIT) is an independent, grassroots, citizen-led, volunteer campaign.
We believe that by introducing ranked ballots for Toronto municipal elections, we can make a small and simple change that will make our elections more fair and friendly. RaBIT's approach is strictly non-partisan, positive, municipally-focused, and collaborative. RaBIT has managed to gather support for its campaign from a wide spectrum of community leaders, Toronto City Councillors, and journalists. RaBIT was originally founded by 'community choreographer' Dave Meslin. Now an incorporated non-for-profit organization led by a working board of volunteer directors, RaBIT is advocating for Toronto to move to a ranked ballot in time for the 2018 election.
RaBIT grew out of an earlier city-wide dialogue called Better Ballots that was aimed at exploring fourteen potential improvements to municipal politics in Toronto. In spring 2010, this campaign held four town halls across Toronto (in Scarborough, Etobicoke, North York and Downtown) and garnered significant media attention and popular support. Moving to a ranked ballot was ultimately selected as one of the most popular possible improvements by participants in the dialogue.
With Better Ballots raising the profile of ranked ballots, the issue was first considered by Toronto City Council in August 2010 when Councillors Ootes and Feldman moved a motion that directed the city manager “to research and report to the Executive Committee in the new term of Council on alternate methods on the election of the Mayor for the City of Toronto for 2014”. The background of the motion explicitly identified ranked ballots as one option for the report to examine. This motion passed by a vote of 30-12.
After the requested report was completed, and after an extensive public consultation exercise, Council again considered the issue in August 2013 when it voted by a margin of 26-15 in favour of asking the provincial government to grant Toronto permission to use ranked ballots for its municipal elections. In response to this motion, Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter introduced a Private Member's Bill in spring 2014 that would have granted this permission. NDP MPP Jonah Schein introduced a similar bill at about the same time. Hunter's bill passed second reading and was slated for consideration by committee when the 2014 provincial election was called.
During the 2014 provincial election campaign, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that, if re-elected, the Liberal government would introduce legislation that would enable all Ontario municipalities to use ranked ballots if they so chose. After the election, the Premier sent her new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ted McMeekin, a mandate letter in which she explicitly charged him with bringing forward legislation that would provide "municipalities with the option of using ranked ballots in future elections, starting in 2018, as an alternative to first-past-the-post."
In spring 2015, Minister McMeekin announced a consultation process aimed at gathering input from the public on how the government should implement its promise to provide municipalities with the ability to use ranked ballots. At the same time, the province launched a technical working group to discuss the issues surrounding implementation of ranked ballots at the municipal level with public servants and other stakeholders with the aim of informing the legislative drafting process.
On September 16, 2016, history was made in Ontario! The Government of Ontario officially passed regulations making it possible for any Ontario municipality to use a ranked ballot in their elections. The race is on - now the question is, who will lead?
RaBIT is continuing our work at City Hall and around the city, to make Toronto the first city in Ontario to say goodbye to our broken First-Past-The-Post system! We need your help to make our municipal elections more fair and friendly - please spread the word, sign up to volunteer, or donate what you can.