Ranked Ballot Experiment
Why is ranked-choice voting the best choice for a strong democracy? In December 2020, the Toronto-St. Paul’s Greens carried out an experiment to demonstrate the advantages of this system. We sent out a survey to local supporters, asking them to rank their favourite Toronto sports teams.
Our aim is to show people how ranked ballots work and raise awareness about Premier Ford’s decision to no longer allow municipalities to use them in elections.
The results are in! Consider how a process like this might be beneficial for municipal elections or any other electoral process.
Thirty-three people voted, and the distribution of first-place votes looks like this:
Initial results (poor Marlies)
The team with the next fewest votes is Toronto FC. All three FC fans ranked the Leafs as their second choice as well. Thus the Leafs edge past the Raptors on this ballot:
In a traditional, first-past-the-post election, the Raptors would win, with 12 votes (36% of the vote). However, with ranked voting, none of the teams can win the election unless they have over 50% of the votes or 17 or more.
Since no team achieved this, we eliminated the team with the fewest first-place votes and redistributed their votes to their second choices. The Marlies received zero first-place votes and were thus eliminated from the race, with no votes to be redistributed. The lone Argos voter ranked the Leafs as their second choice, so the new distribution looks like this:
Better luck next time, Toronto FC
No team has reached the requisite 17 votes yet, so the Jays must be eliminated as well. These fans are closely split, with four supporting the 2019 NBA Champions, and three supporting the Leafs:
Final result (go Leafs!)
And voila! The Leafs have crossed the threshold and have won the title of Toronto’s favourite sports team (at least among these 33 Green Party supporters). Whereas in a first-past-the-post election, the Raptors would have won with only 36% of the vote, allowing people to rank their choices reveals that the Leafs were in fact more popular.
More importantly, everyone can vote their conscience without accidentally electing someone they do not wish to see in power. Instead of having to vote “strategically” for parties they dislike, people can rank those parties second or third, while giving their preferred party their first choice.
Municipalities should be able to implement electoral reforms if they deem it best for them. By limiting local autonomy with Bill 218, Premier Ford is preventing municipalities from providing the most democratic choice.
To protect your choice of ranked ballot voting, please sign the Green Party of Ontario’s petition: