By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 2 2017
Minden Hills council will not adopt a ranked ballot system for the 2018 municipal election sticking with the traditional first-past-the-post system.
Councillors reviewed a report on ranked ballots during their Jan. 26 meeting. Last year the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing granted municipalities the option of using the ranked ballot system starting with the 2018 municipal elections if they so choose.
In the ranked ballot system voters rank their preferred candidates in order on ballots. If a candidate receives the majority of the votes that candidate wins. If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the votes then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes are redistributed accordingly. This process repeats until one candidate accrues the majority of votes.
A report from the township clerk Dawn Newhook explained that adopting the ranked ballot system would require holding a public meeting which must be advertised a minimum of 30 days before the meeting is held.
It would also require a bylaw be passed by May 1 of this year as well as redesigned ballots updated technology and upgraded ballot counting equipment.
A survey the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario showed that 47 per cent of clerks surveyed definitely would not recommend ranked ballots for their municipal governments. Twenty-nine per cent they would probably not recommend the adoption of the system; 21 per cent said they were not sure; three per cent said they probably would recommend the adoption of ranked ballots and one per cent of clerks surveyed said they would definitely be recommending the adoption of the system.
Given the complicating factors and tight timeline it was Newhook’s recommendation that Minden Hills council not adopt ranked ballots a recommendation with which council agreed.
Reeve Brent Devolin said he had nothing against the ranked ballot system in principle and that while it might make sense in larger municipalities that see several candidates in each ward in smaller municipalities it doesn’t seem to make as much sense.
Devolin added that it might be interesting to look back at the results of past Minden Hills elections to see if a ranked system would have altered the outcome at all.