One of the things we want to do with RaBIT’s new blog is to provide regular Torontonians with an opportunity to have their voice heard. This post, written by new RaBIT supporter Lynda Chubak, is the first in what will be a recurring series of such posts.
On February 28, I attended my first RaBIT event, the Ranked Ballots Roadshow. Though I had been loosely following this grassroots initiative for a few years, growing concerns over the slow pace of improvements to the city and a lack of diversity on City Council finally pushed me out the door to learn more.
I came to hear first-hand how our municipal democracy could be made better. Better for me means at least two things. First, I want change that creates a real possibility that more women and, generally, more people who better reflect Toronto’s diversity will be elected. Second, it should no longer be almost a given that an incumbent candidate will win elections in their ward. New voices should have a fighting chance.
In our first blog post we explained how our current voting system is seriously flawed and how a ranked ballot system would be better. We also mentioned some of the benefits that ranked ballots offer compared to our current system. They include:
- An end to vote splitting
- Better choices for voters
- Less negative campaigning
- Drastic reductions in strategic voting
- Election winners that actually have majority support
You can check out a brief overview of these benefits here, but we also wanted to provide a more comprehensive explanation of how ranked ballots help to produce these benefits. So, in this post, we examine how ranked ballots end vote splitting, why that’s a good thing, and explore how this leads to voters getting better choices at the ballot box. In a later post we’ll explain how ranked ballots decrease negative campaigning, drastically reduce strategic voting, and ensure that election winners actually have majority support.
Together, these posts will lay out our “theory of change” for how ranked ballots will improve Toronto’s politics. In other words, these posts will show how using ranked ballots will shift the incentives and systems that currently structure how politics happens in our city for the better.
Guess what? As of today (21 February) we’re only 243 days away from the 2018 Toronto Municipal Election on October 22! While that might seem like a long time right now, before you know it, it’s going to be time to cast your ballot.
Don't worry though, we’re already busy working to make sure that we get the positive message about ranked ballots out to as many people as possible. So keep reading for information on our next big event which is taking place in just a few days on Wednesday, February 28th.
We’re one month into 2018 and RaBIT is already busy getting ready to make ranked ballots a hot topic in next fall’s municipal election. Read on for three important updates about how what we’re working on - and how you can help out.
RaBIT volunteers often get asked why we want to change a system that some people think is “working just fine”. This is an important question and one we need to be able to answer clearly and persuasively.
Between now and the Toronto elections on October 22nd, we’ll be using this blog to answer that question and to build the case for switching to ranked ballots. Every couple of weeks we’ll be bringing you research, analysis, and first-hand accounts from a diversity of perspectives that clearly demonstrate how switching to ranked ballots will improve our local democracy and help make Toronto a better place to live.
This post is the first in that series and in it, we tackle the big overarching question we just raised: why should Toronto change the way it votes?
Well winter has finally arrived here in Toronto. So before moving on to the latest updates about our work to bring ranked ballots to our city, we wanted to first take this opportunity to wish you a happy holiday season. We really hope that it’s one that is full of joy and happiness for you and your friends and family.
RaBIT at YIMBY
On Saturday, December 9th, RaBIT volunteers were out in full force at Toronto's annual YIMBY (Yes in my Backyard!) festival, a wonderful event that promotes grassroots civic engagement in the city. As in previous years, our volunteers had a lot of great conversations about ranked ballots with other attendees and came away feeling inspired about Toronto's future possibilities. We also got a whole bunch of new signatures on our petition!
Report from RaBIT’s First Meetup
You may recall that in our last update, we announced RaBIT’s first monthly meetup. The meetup was held on Monday, December 4th and, as we’re happy to report, was a great success. We had about a dozen new supporters and volunteers come out and, after some introductions, we launched into a great discussion on how to move RaBIT forward in an election year.
A few weeks ago, we told you that we were working on some new initiatives as we ramped up our efforts ahead of the 2018 municipal elections here in Toronto.
We’ve already told you about our participation in the DemocracyXchange campaigning conference and our partnership with WillowWood school to use ranked ballots for their student elections. And you’ve surely signed our petition right?
Now we want to provide you with a new opportunity to get directly involved in our work.
Here at RaBIT, we’re always looking for new ways to make experiencing better democracy more accessible to more Torontonians. That’s why we were so excited when we discovered ElectionBuddy, a web app that brings ranked ballots to your smartphone or desktop. By combining a simple user interface with the ability to vote from anywhere, ElectionBuddy makes it easy to use ranked balloting for anything from choosing the next book for your book club to picking tomorrow night’s movie with a group of friends.
RaBIT recently put ElectionBuddy to the test by partnering with RaBIT supporter Jeff Clayton. Jeff is a teacher at WillowWood School, a private K-12 school in North York. Jeff wanted to teach his students about different types of voting systems by using ranked ballots for the school’s student elections. Check out Jeff’s super-cute and informative video on our YouTube page. As you’ll see, the election was a great success!
Just over a year ago, the provincial government made good on its promise to enable Ontario municipalities to use ranked ballots in their local elections. Since then, London City Council voted decisively to switch to ranked ballots for their 2018 election and Kingston City Council voted to hold a referendum in 2018 on whether that city should make the change.
Unfortunately, here in Toronto, our city council has shown much less leadership. Not only did our council vote against ranked ballots, they even voted against a proposal to ask citizens what they thought about using them.
This is a big deal. Here at RaBIT HQ, we're so excited that we've decided to celebrate by hosting a Victory Party for London on Thursday, June 15th, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.