Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System


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2. Majority electoral systems

When the ballots are counted, each party's share of parliamentary seats is calculated on the basis of its "second-ballot" vote. The second-ballot results are used to correct the disproportionality of the first-ballot results. This is the most proportional of the "mixed" systems. This need not be a problem, if all MPs are given substantial and clearly defined responsibilities. Footnote 17 SMP creates high turnover in the Canadian House of Commons, which is weakened by inexperienced members who lack policy expertise and a working knowledge of the rules.

A more stable membership would make the Commons a more powerful legislative body, Footnote 18 as would a "class" of MPs with the time and energy for serious committee work, departmental oversight and legislative review. The real obstacle to adopting top-up MMP is the extreme proportionality of the seat allocations. Defenders of SMP argue that an excessively proportional electoral system would rule out single-party majority governments, and require the formation of "unstable coalitions.

The second type of mixed system is parallel MMP. The crucial difference between top-up and parallel MMP is that in the latter system the seat total for each party is the sum of the seats won on both ballots instead of being determined by the second-ballot result, as in top-up MMP. The seats won on the second ballot are added to those won on the first ballot; they are not used to correct the disproportional first-ballot results. While this may seem like a failing, it does answer those critics who prefer single-party majority governments. It also gives every voter a chance to elect a second-ballot MP, reducing the problem of wasted votes and thereby boosting voter turnout, and it gives all of the major national parties a good chance to win seats in every region.

It also benefits women and minority candidates. Note: The above tables use actual voting data from Canadian federal elections for illustrative purposes; they should not be taken as projections of actual outcomes, because the voting pattern would almost certainly have differed under an alternative electoral system. While the Liberals are always the winners, their share of Commons seats varies from an artificial majority of While the effect of any electoral reform should not be overstated, and cannot be fully predicted, parallel MMP has enough potential to warrant serious official investigation and public discussion.

The federal government should establish a commission of inquiry into the electoral system, with a mandate to recommend an alternative to SMP. A binding decision between the two systems should be left to a national referendum, preceded by an impartial campaign of public education about the issues involved in the choice.

The conditions are right for a similar leap of faith in Canada. Return to source of Footnote 2 Jackman, Robert W. Pammett, eds. Return to source of Footnote 6 Farrell, David M. Return to source of Footnote 7 Cairns, Alan C. Williams, ed. Women and Aboriginals Should", in Milner, Henry, ed. Return to source of Footnote 17 Jenkins, Lord, et al. Return to source of Footnote 18 Franks, C. Note: The opinions expressed are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Resource Centre. Archived This Web page has been archived on the Web.

The country is divided into single-member constituencies. The voter chooses one of the candidates on the ballot. The candidate with more votes than any other wins the seat. The country is divided into multi-member constituencies. The voter ranks some or all of the candidates on the ballot. Anyway, election day is not the only time eligible voters can cast their ballot. Voters have a few other options to choose from:.

Check it out: For more information on the ways to vote, visit the Elections Canada website. Whatever electoral system is in place, this means making sure that Canadians are able to exercise their democratic rights to be a candidate and to vote. Parliament revisits this issue from time to time to make sure our system is working in the best interests of citizens. This ongoing discussion is just one way to keep our democracy healthy.


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Take a look at some of the other electoral systems being used around the world. Talk about it: Do you think a different electoral system would work in Canada? Why or why not? From voter registration to the counting of ballots—and everything in between—each step of the electoral process has a number of safeguards in place.

FAQ: Students Asked, We Answered

This is what keeps our elections safe and secure. Here are some of these safeguards:. These and other measures are protected and enforced by law through the Canada Elections Act. Skip to main content. Young Canadians who want to know more about how our democracy works ask us some good questions. Is Canada introducing online voting? Of course, there would be some benefits to online voting: convenience: imagine voting from the couch in your pyjamas!

Here are some other downsides of online voting to think about: privacy and secrecy concerns, such as information getting out about your identity or how you voted fraud, such as someone voting under a false identity, or voting more than once lack of transparency: since no one is there to observe the vote, people may have less confidence in the voting process and results Talk about it: Are the potential benefits of online voting worth the risks? In Australia, people must vote by law. Talk about it: Can you think of other ways to encourage people to vote?

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How can I work in the next election? Would I have to give up my right to vote?

Young people are the future of our country, but they vote in lower numbers than other age groups. What is Elections Canada doing to get more youth voting?

If schools gave civics classes the same importance as some other subjects, like math or science, would we see higher voter turnout by young people? Majoritarian voting can take place in a single round using instant-runoff voting IRV , whereby voters rank candidates in order of preference; this system is used for parliamentary elections in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the first round, the second preferences of the lowest-ranked candidate are then added to the totals.

Online Voting: A Path Forward for Federal Elections

If not all voters use all their preference votes, then the count may continue until two candidates remain, at which point the winner is the one with the most votes. A modified form of IRV is the contingent vote where voters do not rank all candidates, but have a limited number of preference votes. If no candidate has a majority in the first round, all candidates are excluded except the top two, with the highest remaining preference votes from the votes for the excluded candidates then added to the totals to determine the winner.

This system is used in Sri Lankan presidential elections, with voters allowed to give three preferences. The other main form of majoritarian system is the two-round system , which is the most common system used for presidential elections around the world, being used in 88 countries.

Trudeau: We Will Make Every Vote Count

It is also used in 20 countries for electing the legislature. In most cases the second round is limited to the top two candidates from the first round, although in some elections more than two candidates may choose to contest the second round; in these cases the second round is decided by plurality voting. An exhaustive ballot is not limited to two rounds, but sees the last-placed candidate eliminated in the round of voting.

Due to the large potential number of rounds, this system is not used in any major popular elections, but is used to elect the Speakers of parliament in several countries and members of the Swiss Federal Council. In some formats there may be multiple rounds held without any candidates being removed until a candidate achieves a majority, a system used in the United States Electoral College. Proportional representation is the most widely used electoral system for national legislatures, with the parliaments of over eighty countries elected by various forms of the system.

Party-list proportional representation is the single most common electoral system and is used by 80 countries, and involves voters voting for a list of candidates proposed by a party. In closed list systems voters do not have any influence over the candidates put forward by the party, but in open list systems voters are able to both vote for the party list and influence the order in which candidates will be assigned seats. In some countries, notably Israel and the Netherlands , elections are carried out using 'pure' proportional representation, with the votes tallied on a national level before assigning seats to parties.

However, in most cases several multi-member constituencies are used rather than a single nationwide constituency, giving an element of geographical representation. However, this can result in the distribution of seats not reflecting the national vote totals. As a result, some countries have leveling seats to award to parties whose seat totals are lower than their proportion of the national vote.

In addition to the electoral threshold , the minimum percentage of the vote that a party must obtain to win seats, there are several different methods for calculating seat allocation in proportional systems, typically broken down into the two main types; highest average and largest remainder. Under largest remainder systems, party's vote shares are divided by the quota obtained by dividing the number of votes by the number of seats available.

This usually leaves some seats unallocated, which are awarded to parties based on the largest fractions of seats that they have remaining. Examples of largest remainder systems include the Hare quota , Droop quota , the Imperiali quota and the Hagenbach-Bischoff quota. Single transferable vote STV is another form of proportional representation, but is achieved by voters ranking candidates in a multi-member constituency by preference rather than voting for a party list; it is used in Malta and the Republic of Ireland.

To be elected, candidates must pass a quota the Droop quota being the most common. Candidates that pass the quota on the first count are elected. Votes are then reallocated from the least successful candidates until the number of candidates that have passed the quota is equal to the number of seats to be filled. In several countries, mixed systems are used to elect the legislature.

These include parallel voting and mixed-member proportional representation. In parallel voting systems, which are used in 20 countries, [1] there are two methods by which members of a legislature are elected; part of the membership is elected by a plurality or majority vote in single-member constituencies and the other part by proportional representation. The results of the constituency vote has no effect on the outcome of the proportional vote. Mixed-member proportional representation, in use in eight countries, also sees the membership of the legislature elected by constituency and proportional methods, but the results of the proportional vote are adjusted to balance the seats won in the constituency vote in order to ensure that parties have a number of seats proportional to their vote share.

Variations of this include the Additional Member System and Alternative Vote Plus , in which voters rank candidates, and the other from multi-member constituencies elected on a proportional party list basis. A form of mixed-member proportional representation, Scorporo , was used in Italy from until Some electoral systems feature a majority bonus system to either ensure one party or coalition gains a majority in the legislature, or to give the party receiving the most votes a clear advantage in terms of the number of seats.

In Greece the party receiving the most votes is given an additional 50 seats, [6] San Marino has a modified two-round system, which sees a second round of voting featuring the top two parties or coalitions if there is no majority in the first round. The winner of the second round is guaranteed 35 seats in the seat Grand and General Council.

In Uruguay , the President and members of the General Assembly are elected by on a single ballot, known as the double simultaneous vote. Voters cast a single vote, voting for the presidential, Senatorial and Chamber of Deputies candidates of that party.

Passionate response from political rivals

This system was also previously used in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. Primary elections are a feature of some electoral systems, either as a formal part of the electoral system or informally by choice of individual political parties as a method of selecting candidates, as is the case in Italy. Primary elections limit the risk of vote splitting by ensuring a single party candidate.

In Argentina they are a formal part of the electoral system and take place two months before the main elections; any party receiving less than 1. In the United States, there are both partisan and non-partisan primary elections.

Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview

Some elections feature an indirect electoral system, whereby there is either no popular vote, or the popular vote is only one stage of the election; in these systems the final vote is usually taken by an electoral college. In several countries, such as Mauritius or Trinidad and Tobago , the post of President is elected by the legislature. In others like India , the vote is taken by an electoral college consisting of the national legislature and state legislatures. In the United States , the president is indirectly elected using a two-stage process; a popular vote in each state elects members to the electoral college that in turn elects the President.

This can result in a situation where a candidate who receives the most votes nationwide does not win the electoral college vote, as most recently happened in and In addition to the various electoral systems in use in the political sphere, there are numerous others, some of which are proposals and some of which have been adopted for usage in business such as electing corporate board members or for organisations but not for public elections.

Dual-member proportional representation is a proposed system with two candidates elected in each constituency, one with the most votes and one to ensure proportionality of the combined results. Biproportional apportionment is a system whereby the total number of votes is used to calculate the number of seats each party is due, followed by a calculation of the constituencies in which the seats should be awarded in order to achieve the total due to them.

Cardinal electoral systems allow voters to score candidates independently. The complexity ranges from approval voting where voters simply state whether they approve of a candidate or not to range voting , where a candidate is scored from a set range of numbers. Historically, weighted voting systems were used in some countries. These allocated a greater weight to the votes of some voters than others, either indirectly by allocating more seats to certain groups such as the Prussian three-class franchise , or by weighting the results of the vote.

The latter system was used in colonial Rhodesia for the and elections. The elections featured two voter rolls the 'A' roll being largely European and the 'B' roll largely African ; the seats of the House Assembly were divided into 50 constituency seats and 15 district seats. Although all voters could vote for both types of seats, 'A' roll votes were given greater weight for the constituency seats and 'B' roll votes greater weight for the district seats.

Weighted systems are still used in corporate elections, with votes weighted to reflect stock ownership. In addition to the specific method of electing candidates, electoral systems are also characterised by their wider rules and regulations, which are usually set out in a country's constitution or electoral law.

Participatory rules determine candidate nomination and voter registration , in addition to the location of polling places and the availability of online voting , postal voting , and absentee voting. Other regulations include the selection of voting devices such as paper ballots , machine voting or open ballot systems , and consequently the type of vote counting systems , verification and auditing used.

Electoral rules place limits on suffrage and candidacy.

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Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System
Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System
Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System
Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System Making Every Vote Count : Reassessing Canadas Electoral System
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