It has been a year and a half since I last updated this blog. In that time,
- Trudeau has shelved plans for electoral reform at the federal level
- BC’s coalition NDP-Green government has set a referendum for electoral reform at the provincial level
- PEI has scheduled a redo of their electoral reform referendum to coincide with their next provincial general election (scheduled for this fall)
- London, Ontario is on track to become the first municipality to use ranked ballots for city council elections following changes to the Ontario Municipal Elections Act passed in 2016. Kingston and Cambridge, Ontario will hold referendums on October 22 to adopt ranked ballots next time.
Also, I completed my first year of an MPA program at Harvard University, where I dove deep into the subject of electoral reform, the history of election law in the US, and a general international trend toward the concentration of political power in strongman leaders.
Strongmen were not the only ones increasing their influence. Society finally awoke to how Internet giants have been gathering our crumbs of data for years and using behavioural science to manipulate us through vulnerabilities we didn’t even know we had.
I was glued to news sources as I watched the Patrick Brown drama unfold, including allegations of third-world ballot stuffing and a leadership election process whose results were not immediately accepted due to unnecessary procedural complexities.
It’s been fun.
Most importantly, I have evolved my viewpoints on the best way to introduce effective electoral reform. Instead of the submission I made to the ERRE committee in 2016, a year and a half later (including two semesters with the brilliant students and professors at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government), I have new ideas:
- Instead of the bicameral model I advocated earlier, a unicameral legislature elected using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) is a better way to balance proportionality with local accountability
- All districts, urban or rural, should return three representatives
- Parties should be able to run more than three candidates (makes it possible to end the practice of by-elections). Party affiliation would appear on the ballot.
- Bring in mandatory voting under two conditions:
- Election Day, held on a Wednesday, would become a national (or provincial) holiday. Citizens’ job that day would be to consider the information available and cast a vote based on their best judgment.
- It would be possible to vote “None of the Above” and do so in secret, as an option on the ballot paper.
- The penalty for not voting would be a nominal amount like $18.37 (That year’s rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada led to the democracy we cherish today.)
- The parallel use of optical-scan tabulators and scrutineer-observed hand counting is the best way to produce an accurate, verifiable vote tally result.
STV is a tried and true system used in Ireland and Malta. It is recommended for the United Kingdom by the Electoral Reform Society, and for the United States by FairVote. It also has the added advantage of solving the candidate nomination controversies suffered by the Ontario PC Party.
I will have more to say, likely on a new, better-designed website. Stay tuned.