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Time for Ranked Ballots

W. K. Lis

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Dec 24, 2007
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Toronto, ON, CAN, Terra, Sol, Milky Way
The current election for Toronto City Council shows that the person with less than 50% of the votes could or will be elected. In other words, the person the majority do not want could get in.

Other cities are now using Ranked Choice Voting Ballot. This explanation of ranked ballot is from A Better Oakland at this link:

Sample ranked choice ballot counting

Let’s pretend we are having a ranked choice voting election for our favorite character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We’ll look at three different imaginary ballots for this election alongside imaginary vote totals. In the example, the candidate that each ballot’s vote goes to in any particular round is circled in red.


So here are our three ballots, plus the vote count for all the imaginary ballots in this election’s first round of tallying. As you can see, all three of the ballots have been filled out correctly, with different candidates picked as choices 1, 2, and 3.

What would an example of not filling it out correctly be? Well, people ask me a lot if they’re allowed to pick the same candidate for choices 1, 2, and 3. No. If you want to do this, it means you don’t understand how ranked choice voting works. The only way your second choice vote will ever count is if your first choice candidate loses and is no longer in the running.

If you really only want to vote for one candidate, then that’s fine. You are not obligated to pick a second or third choice.

Okay, let’s move on. Since no candidate in the first round received 50% of the vote, we move on to a second round of counting.


Since Angel received the lowest number of votes, he is now eliminated from the running. He had fifteen first choice votes. Those votes have now gone to the other candidates, based on the second choice votes of people who had picked Angel as their first choice.

Since none of the ballots we’re looking at picked Angel for their first choice, all of their original first choice candidates remain the candidate their vote is going to. The only people whose second choice votes count are the ones who picked Angel, the eliminated candidate, as their first choice.

Okay, since we still do not have any candidate with more than 50% of the vote, we move on to a third round of counting.


Since Angel was eliminated after the first round of counting, he is still out. Cordelia had the smallest vote total after the second round of counting, which means she gets eliminated.

All the people who voted for Cordelia as their first choice have now had their votes transferred to their second choice candidate. You can see this in sample ballot number three. That voter had selected Cordelia as their first choice. Now that she’s out of the running, their vote goes to Xander, who they had selected as their second choice.

The other two ballots picked someone for their first choice who has not yet been eliminated, so their votes are still going to their first choice candidate.

Since we still have no candidate receiving more than 50% of the vote, we will move on to a fourth round of counting.


Since Xander had the lowest vote total in the last round, he is now eliminated. In the third of our example ballots, Xander had been marked as the second choice. Since he is now out of the running, this vote is now going to Buffy, who the voter had marked as their third choice. For the other two ballots, their first choice candidate remains in the running. Therefore, their vote is still going to their first choice candidate.

And still, we have no candidate receiving over 50% of the vote. That means we are on to yet another round.


Since Giles received the lowest number of votes in the last count, he is now eliminated. His votes are now redistributed among the remaining candidates according to what those voters choose as their second or third choice vote.

In the second example ballot, the voter had picked Giles for their first choice. Now that he’s gone, their vote goes to Willow, who they had picked as second choice.

Since only two candidates remain, the one with the highest number of votes wins.

Buffy got the biggest number of first place votes in this election, and after several rounds of elimination, ended up the winner. This is the case in almost every ranked choice voting election.

There is also a video explaining the ranked ballot:


In the meantime, make sure the candidate you do not want, does not get in, by voting strategically. Not the best way, but all we can do with the current election.
The media needs to push this or it won't get any traction.

The problem is that we just had a 10 month campaign and people are understandably experiencing election fatigue. I don't think anybody will really pay attention if this is put forward now.
Anything can be discussed online. When the media starts picking it up and covering it through interviews with city councillors, then I think it'll be something that might actually get citizens engaged in and demanding.
Well for mayor, I would have ranked my choice #1, and then nobody else at all. Cuz even my #1 choice was a very reluctant one.
The ranked ballot still presumes having a ruler and their forced monopolies. It's still being looked at from a narrow perspective; trying to legitimize government.

It’s plausible to argue that the 43% who cast ballots voluntarily bound themselves to the outcome, i.e. “consented to be governed” by the winner whether that winner was “their” candidate or some other. It’s not, however, plausible to argue the same of the 57% who either chose not to vote or were forbidden to do so. “The consent of the governed” is clearly a superstition, no matter how many electoral victories the priesthood yanks out of its magic boxes.
Remember, Remember, Don’t Vote in November

(here's a repost from last night)

How does the mayor have legitimate rule over everyone if ~20% of people (out of those who are eligible) checked off his name on a paper ballot? Never mind settling over your 2nd or 3rd choice.

What evidence is there that people actually want the supposed services offered by government (given that they are not voluntarily solicited or granted)?

Where is the evidence that the government has jurisdiction if they take their "authority" from the consent of the governed.

Do they care about public opinion? The government cares about public opinion to the extent that they are keeping their PR scheme nice and polished (like the "consent of the governed"). I guess they care about being in control; the organization that they work for; their paycheques and the control freakishness that they can wield against people.

You'd think that the mayor who's representing people would say "You know what? I can't, in good conscious, represent people because most people don't think I do. So what I'm I doing here?" That'd be a level of honesty that no politician or mayor could ever muster, because they don't believe in any of these so-called "social contracts"… they know it's just PR… it's just propaganda that gives them some semblance of legitimacy that allows them to wield the guns of the biggest gang that ever existed.

There is no logic or ethicality to this process.
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Why don't you just install your guy and ban elections? That way you can end the charade of having to support democracy.

I bet a lot of folks here thought Bob Rae had a mandate with a whopping 33%, right?
True you only support a cause if it to your own benefit.

I wonder how many would have said it was an insult to democracy, if Kerry won by winning fewer votes than the Bush in 2004??
I think it's awfully presumptuous to assume that some of us are only in favour of this because Ford won. I think we should have fair voting at every level of government because it seems absurd to give less than 50% of the populace the right to impose their rule over the majority. It just so happens that in a party-less system (which I think is essential in municipal politics. All these calls for municipal parties are just a way to make things easier for the media) the way to make things fair is to have ranked ballots for Mayor and Councilors. Unfortunately, people don't seem to understand voting reform as we saw with the MMP referendum and therefore it'd be unlikely that the public would be all for this, even though it would be entirely in their best interest.
If people refuse to vote, then they're giving their consent to be ruled by the people who actually did vote.
Voting reform is awesome but the problem is that people only remember to care about it for about two weeks before a major election and maybe a week afterwards.

I also think the overly complicated MMP proposal in Ontario a few years ago kind of poisoned the well. They did a remarkably shitty job of selling that.
The thought that should I vote for a very unpopular candidate who is eliminated early means that my vote is then given to someone else based on a formula is downright disturbing. My only voice in a democracy is my vote, and you suppose to take that right from me and give it to a candidate that I did not choose to vote for? Are you kidding me? The entire premise here just reeks of elitist feces. WTF gives anyone the right to take my vote and give to someone else? If I choose to vote for some wingnut out in the political wilderness, that is my choice, my right.

This is not a democratic idea, it's an attempt to slowly co-opt the election process in order to manufacture results that some might prefer.
The new mayor was *directly* elected by a huge margin in a municipal election with a staggering 50+% turnout.

If that isn't democracy in action, then I don't know what is.

Is UT really this out of touch?