London, Ont. abandons first-past-the-post

The City Council of London, Ont. voted in favour of switching to a ranked ballot system for their 2018 municipal election. This unprecedented decision makes London City Council the first and only government, anywhere in Canada, to abandon first-past-the-post (FPtP).

“Ranked ballots are a small and simple change that make local elections more fair, inclusive and friendly” says Dave Meslin, Creative Director of Unlock Democracy Canada.

London Ont. is nation’s 1st FPtP

“In an age of increasing political cynicism it’s inspiring to see this kind of leadership. Voters deserve a modern electoral system that delivers fair results, reduces negativity and encourages more voices to participate.”

London has put themselves on the map as the #1 leader of democratic renewal in Canada—a great gift to the country on our 150th birthday!

Recent legislation in Ontario allows any of the province’s 444 municipalities to use ranked ballots, but 443 Councils decided to keep the status quo. Electoral reform is difficult to achieve because incumbents rarely want to change the system that put them into power. What we saw in London tonight was rare: selfless leadership.

“I am so proud of my colleagues and my city on this historic accomplishment.” said Councillor Josh Morgan who lead the charge to bring Ranked Choice Voting to London. “Tonight’s vote was about strengthening our democracy and empowering Londoners with an electoral system that allows them to clearly express their preferences. London, Ontario is now at the centre of democratic innovation and renewal in Canada.”

Community leaders:

“We’re pleased that council has taken the historic step of moving to a ranked ballot for our next municipal election,” said Wes Kinghorn, President of the Urban League of London. “We have now committed to a change that holds the potential for greater civility, diversity and choice for all Londoners in 2018.”

“We’re proud that our council took a leadership position on ranked ballots and made equity in elections a priority,” said Shawna Lewkowitz, founder of Women & Politics. “We are very optimistic that this change will have a positive impact on the number of women and racialized people who decide to run in future elections.”

Ranked ballots aren’t unfamiliar in Canada. The Conservative Party just mailed out 250,000 ranked ballots for their leadership race, as will the NDP in September. But next year’s municipal election in London will mark the first time in a generation that voters in a general election will be able to rank their votes, anywhere in Canada.

The May 1, 2017 vote is historic. Canada was the only OECD country that used First-Past-the-Post exclusively for all elections…until then.

— Wes Kinghorn