In our September 2020 newsletter, we told you the coming days might bring some bad news for ranked ballots.
Unfortunately, we were right to be concerned.
As part of the preparations for the City Council meeting on 30 September, city staff published a recommendation that Council cancel the planned public consultations on ranked ballots and delay any further work on this issue until after the next election. Staff justify this recommendation by saying that the pandemic had made it too difficult to conduct these consultations and that the situation is too uncertain to proceed.
We have read the staff report and, while we agree that the pandemic will clearly make moving forward more difficult, we do not see why public consultations on ranked ballots cannot proceed - as have consultations on many other issues, including ones organized by the City of Toronto. (For a comprehensive analysis of why this is the case, please see our detailed response to the report, or our Executive Summary.)
More importantly, we believe that these consultations must continue precisely because the pandemic, and the summer of racial reckoning that has followed, clearly highlight why we need ranked ballots now more than ever.
We Need Ranked Ballots More Than Ever
As we overcome, and recover from, this crisis, our success will depend on the ability of our leaders to focus on inclusion, collaboration, and unity. Even more importantly, success will depend on the ability of our representative institutions to make room for the voices of women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour - the groups that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Most importantly, success will require that women and racialized people hold power and occupy seats at decision-making tables in numbers that are much more proportional to their share of the population than is currently the case.
We know that ranked ballots will help to meet both of these needs, and it is for these reasons that, even if the pandemic has made it more difficult to do the required public consultations, it has, to a much greater degree, made doing so even more essential.
Thus, we are calling on Council to not accept staff’s recommendation, to re-confirm their commitment to public consultations, and to direct city staff to proceed accordingly.
But we need your help to make this happen.
How Can You Help?
We should be able to win this vote at Council as a majority of Council has already pledged to implement ranked ballots for the 2022 election. But unless we let them know how the pandemic has made adoption of ranked ballots a more urgent issue, rather than less, they may not realize how important a priority it is.
So please, help us defend the consultations and the progress towards ranked ballots that we won last year by:
- Sending Mayor Tory (firstname.lastname@example.org) an email asking him to commit to voting to continue public consultations on ranked ballots on 30 September. We’ve provided a sample email you can use below.
- Including your City Councillor on the same email (find their email here) and asking them to make the same commitment. Your councillor will pay more attention if you include your postal code so, if you feel comfortable doing so, please add it with your name at the end of the email.
- If you haven’t already done so, please sign our petition. It would be great if we could hit 2,500 signatures before the council meeting on 30 September.
We know it’s a pain to have to keep sending these sorts of emails to politicians, especially when they have already committed to doing what you’ve asked. But many of them only seem to act if they know that lots of people care about an issue. We need to win this vote if we want to keep the possibility of a ranked ballot election in 2022 alive.
To: email@example.com; your councillor (find their email here)
Subject: Please vote to defend ranked ballot consultations
Mayor Tory and Councillor XXXXX,
I understand that the City Clerk has recommended that public consultations on ranked ballots not go forward. I also understand that the justification for this recommendation is that the pandemic has made conducting these consultations more difficult.
While I recognize that the current situation does make doing public consultations more difficult, the pandemic has also made the adoption of ranked ballots even more important than was the case before.
We know that women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour have been harmed the most by the pandemic - exactly the groups of people who have been traditionally marginalized in our society and who are underrepresented on City Council. But we also know that ranked ballots can help to solve this problem by helping women and racialized people get elected at higher rates than under a first-past-the-post system.
In other words, we need ranked ballots to be a part of our strategy for overcoming and building a just recovery from this pandemic. They aren’t something that can wait until 2026, we need ranked ballots for the 2022 election. Thus, I am calling on you to vote to reaffirm Council’s direction to city staff to proceed with public consultations on ranked ballots at the City Council meeting on 30 September.
Thank you for your time,
Name and Postal Code