Poll: Majority of Torontonians support ranked ballots in municipal elections
A woman casts her ballot at a voting station in Toronto as voters participate in the Ontario Provincial Election on Thursday October 6, 2011.(Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Codi Wilson, CTV Toronto
Published Wednesday, April 6, 2016 6:35AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 6, 2016 7:48AM EDT
Ranked ballots may not have the support of Toronto city councillors but a new poll shows that Toronto residents appear to be in favour of preferential voting in local elections.
A recently released Mainstreet Research poll, which surveyed 2,062 Toronto residents, found that 59 per cent of respondents support introducing ranked balloting in municipal elections while only 29 per cent did not. Twelve per cent of those surveyed said they were not sure whether they support the shift.
On Monday, the province introduced legislation that if passed, would allow Ontario municipalities to make changes to the way local elections are held. One of the proposed changes is giving municipalities the option to introduce a ranked balloting system.
Toronto city council, which was in favour of preferential voting in 2013, reversed its support for ranked ballots last October.
In a vote of 25 to 18, councillors supported a motion tabled by Coun. Justin Di Ciano that asked the province not to proceed with amendments to the Act relating to ranked choice ballots.
The motion also stated that if the Act was amended to allow for ranked choice ballots, that it be optional for the City of Toronto. It added that the Act should be amended so that the city could only implement ranked ballots after holding public consultations and a referendum.
“Most Torontonians would support ranked balloting even if City Council doesn’t,” Quinto Maggi, the president of Mainstreet Research, said in his analysis accompanying the poll.
“In the past Council has supported the initiative, now it may be getting cold feet. The ward boundary review process has the potential to displace Councillors from their pre-existing constituencies. Adding in ranked ballots may make some councillors very nervous about their chances for re-election. Nevertheless, ranked balloting has strong support from Torontonians.”
Support for ranked ballots was strongest among respondents ages18 to 34.
Another proposed change to the Municipal elections Act is shortening the campaign calendar by opening nomination for candidates on May 1 instead of January 1.
The Mainstreet poll found that a large majority (71 per cent) of the respondents support shortening election campaigns while only 21 per cent do not.
During the last municipal election campaign in Toronto, there was much debate about the lengthy campaign period and former mayoral candidate Olivia Chow promised to shorten it if elected.
The size of council was another topic addressed in the new poll.
Forty-eight per cent of those surveyed said there are too many councillors, 43 per cent say the city has an appropriate number of city councillors and only nine per cent said there are not enough.
Respondents were asked about their thoughts on Internet voting and the poll found that the majority (59 per cent) would be in favour of that option in municipal elections while 22 per cent would not support that option.
The poll, which was conducted on April 3, is considered accurate plus or minus 2.16 per cent, 19 times out of 20.