The issue, coming up next week, would mean city councillors voting to change the system that elects themBy Samantha Craggs, CBC News Posted: Apr 06, 2016 8:04 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 06, 2016 8:12 AM ET
It's a method of voting designed to make every vote count. It would also radically change to how city councillors are elected.
But at least two Hamilton councillors say they want to look at ranked balloting – even if it would change their own election results.
The province announced legislation on April 4 to let cities and towns use ranked ballots for municipal elections.
Under a ranked-ballots system, voters would have a first, second, and third choice. If a candidate wins 50 per cent plus one of the first place votes, that person wins the election.
'The system we have right now creates a democratic deficit. The more people that run, the less support you actually need (to get elected).'- Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor
But if no one achieves that majority, the person with the fewest first place votes is eliminated and voters' second place choices are then divided up among the remaining candidates. The process continues until there is a majority winner.
It would be a radical change from the current first-past-the-post system, said Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor. That's especially true in large races, such as the recent 22-candidate Ward 7 byelection, or the 15-candidate race Green won in 2014.
But he wants the city to take a hard look at implementing it.
Green introduced a motion last year for the city to look at ranked balloting, but it was on hold until the province announced its plans. Now he expects it will resurface.
'Shifts the responsibility'Sam Merulla, Ward 4 councillor, wants to look at it too. He's putting forward a motion on April 13 to look at ranked balloting and how it could be implemented here.
'There is no incentive for incumbents to change the system.'- Matthew Green
Merulla said he wants to boost voter turnout and make sure the winner has a solid mandate.
"It should all be done in the name of those two pillars."
Ranked balloting is potentially divisive, Green said. It would mean city councillors implementing a system that could change their own results come election time.
'If you were to go through the same exercise on the provincial level, the seat count would have been quite different.'- Sam Merulla, Ward 4 councillor
"There is no incentive for incumbents to change the system," Green said. "To ask a sitting council to change a system that's obviously in our favour, I think, just shifts the responsibility.
Also looking at union and corporate donations"The province doesn't want to get into the conversation because they know if they demand it, then people will demand it at the provincial level. So what they've done is actually very smart. It's slick. They've given it to municipalities to fight the fight."
"They're not subjecting themselves to the same, which I find quite interesting," he said. "If you were to go through the same exercise on the provincial level, the seat count would have been quite different."
If passed, the legislation will give municipalities the option of using ranked ballots in the 2018 election. It would also shorten municipal election campaigns by 120 days and give municipalities the chance to ban corporate and union donations.
The latter has support at Hamilton city hall too. Green is a vocal supporter, and Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor, led a call to look into it last year.
With files from Lisa Naccarato