Canadian Election Reform

The Canadian government is placing a referendum on the ballot that would reform elections. To get an idea of how broad election reform can be—more than the mere tinkering at the margins with machines and time of voting we do in the United States, I have clipped just a bit from the article below.

The referendum will ask voters in Ontario to choose between maintaining the electoral system used currently in Ontario, known as first-past-the-post, or a system called mixed member proportional, a system recommended by the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

First-past-the-post is a voting system which results in a single winner in a given riding by receiving the most votes, regardless of whether or not that candidate has a majority of the votes. Mixed member proportional representation is a combination of first-past-the-post and proportional representation. It would give voters two votes on a ballot, one for the local MPP and one for the political party.

With a mixed member proportional system, Ontario would be divided into 90 electoral districts and would have a provincial legislature with 129 seats. “Local members” would fill 90 of these seats, while “list members” would fill 39 seats, according to Referendum Ontario, the organization that has established a website set up to educate the public on the two choices. In each electoral district, one vote would be used to elect a local member using a first-past-the-post system. The candidate with the most votes in an electoral district wins. The other vote would be for a political party. Votes for parties would be used to determine the number of list members each party gets. This is the proportional representation part.