gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Ontario’s Referendum: to MMP or not to MMP, that is the question

October 08, 2007 @ 23:56 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

On Wednesday, October 10th, voters in the Province of Ontario are being asked to cast two ballots: one for the person you want to represent you in the legislature and one to determine the future of voting in Ontario.

Currently, we use a system commonly called “First Past The Post” (FPTP) where people cast votes for the person they wish to have represent them in the legislature. The person who receives the most votes is the person elected. If the votes in a riding are distributed thusly:

  • Joe Blow (Party B): 40%
  • Jane Doe (Party A): 25%
  • Jason Bourne (Party D): 15%
  • James Bond (Party C): 10%
  • Ernst Blofeld (Independent): 7%
  • Joe Q. Public (Independent): 3%

Joe Blow would be elected to represent everyone in the riding, including the 60% of people who didn’t vote for him.

If the results in the rest of the province are similar, you could very well have Party B end up with a majority of the seats in the legislature, even though the majority of the votes cast in the province were not for Party B. This has happened in the past, and it will almost certainly happen again in the future.

So, what’s the solution?

Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) is the solution put forward by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. The Assembly was made up of one randomly selected voter from each riding in Ontario and was tasked with looking at the current system and coming up with changes that the government promised would go to a binding referendum.

The Mixed-Member Proportional system would see a legislature with 129 seats, 90 of which are for directly-elected representatives and 39 allocated to political parties.

Under MMP, you still cast a ballot for your representative in the legislature, but you also cast a ballot for a political party. The representative who wins the seat in a riding is determined using the same method as FPTP — the person with the most votes wins.

After the 90 directly-elected seats are filled, if a party has fewer seats than its portion of the party vote, that party wins some of the additional 39 province-wide at-large seats to ensure it has a fair share of the total seats in the legislature. Each seat represents roughly 3% of the population of Ontario, so a party must win at least 3% of the party votes to win a seat from the at-large seats.

For example, if a party wins 40% of the party votes, and the number of riding seats they win falls 10 seats short of giving that party 40% of the seats in the legislature, then the top 10 at-large candidates on that party’s candidates’ list are elected to fill those seats.

Each political party identifies a list of people who will fill the 39 seats prior to the election. Well in advance of an election, they’ll be required to make public the names, background information on each person and the process used to create their list.

I could go on about it, but it boils down to this: MMP is superior to the system currently in place because it will see a more-balanced legislature and give the smaller parties more of a chance to be heard.

It also allows you to vote for someone you want to be represented by even if they’re not in the party you want to support, because you get to cast a vote for your party, too.

On October 10th, vote for MMP. You can learn more about MMP at www.voteformmp.ca.

One Response to “Ontario’s Referendum: to MMP or not to MMP, that is the question”

  1. Wayne Smith says:

    MMP is a voting system designed by voters to be good for voters. It will give voters the power to hold political parties accountable. That’s why some people don’t like it.

    MPP gives every voter two votes on one ballot, the vote you have now to elect your local member in your riding, and another vote for a political party. The real difference is that the new party vote will actually help to elect someone every time, in contrast to the riding vote we have now, under which most of us vote for someone who does not get elected, so we end up with a government that most of us did not vote for.

    We will continue to elect 90 MMPs as we do now in single member ridings. We will also elect 39 MPPs at large province-wide. The total number of seats each party receives is determined by the number of party votes they receive. Each party will elect enough at-large MPPs to top up their riding MPPs so that each party receives the total number of seats they earned in proportion to the party votes they received.

    The at-large members are elected by the party votes of voters across the province, and they will be accountable to the people who elected them. Most of them will open constituency offices where they live, which means that every party will elect MPPs in every part of the province, and every voter will have access, not just to one MPP, but to MPPs from every party.

    Every voter and every part of the province will have stronger representation under MMP.

    Under our current system, election results are always horribly distorted, sometimes to the extent that the party with the most votes loses the election.
    MMP gives power to voters, not parties. It is our current system that gives one political party unlimited and unaccountable power, even though most people voted against them.

    More women and minorities will be elected under MMP. Under the current system, we have 25% women in the Legislature, and we have never elected an aboriginal person. It’s a disgrace! Every country except Cuba that has at least 30% women in its national assembly uses a proportional voting system.
    We will have fairer election results under MMP.

    Nobody is “appointed” to the Legislature under MMP. The province-wide seats will be hotly contested, because there are not enough of them to go around.

    Under the current system, most of us live in safe ridings and already know who will be elected in our riding before the votes are cast. It is our current riding MPPs who are more likely to be “appointed party hacks”.

    Voters will have more real choices under MMP.

    For yet more information, go to these sources:

    The Citizens’ Assembly website: http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca

    The Vote for MMP campaign: http://www.VoteforMMP.ca

    And above all, READ MY BLOG!: http://www.VoteforMMP.ca/blog/44