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To elect its mayor and council in October of 2018, the City of London, Ontario used ranked-choice voting instead of the traditional first-past-the-post system; the first Canadian city in decades to use an alternative electoral system. London’s experience as the first Ontario municipality to implement ranked-choice voting allows it to offer its experience as a lesson to other municipalities that may be considering making changes to their voting systems.
From the Ontario government’s review of the Municipal Elections Act in 2016 through to the implementation of a ranked-ballot election in 2018, this report details the experience of City of London staff and consultants. Preparations for the election included procuring and testing equipment, hiring and training staff, and educating the public about the ranked-ballot system. A description of voting day procedures focuses on issues specific to ranked-choice voting at the polling stations and tabulation centre. The process of determining the election results is described, including the post-election audit of procedures, and the final costs of the election.
The report concludes with a discussion of lessons other municipalities can take from London’s experience: first, that administering a ranked-choice election is more expensive than a first-past-the-post election, at least the first time. Second, that preparing for and running the election requires organizational changes and additional human resources. Third, that the procurement and testing of equipment and software is a significant endeavour, and finally, that an associated awareness-raising and outreach strategy is essential for informing voters and managing public expectations.
Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance, Western University
London, Ontario, Canada
municipal elections, ranked-choice voting, electoral systems, public administration, ranked ballots
Other Political Science | Public Administration | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning
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Kurs, Charlotte, "Administering a Ranked-Choice Voting Election: Lessons from London, Ontario" (2020). Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance – Publications. 4.