The Vote: How

The ballot and the X
Rahman Mohamed

Image result for election ballotVoting, participating in democracy, is seen as a civil right and duty for Canadians – you can vote and you should.  Canadians who can vote are expected to so democracy continues.  The question for many, not just first time voters: how do you vote?

Image result for election ballotCanadians vote using the private ballot, the voter is given a paper and sent to a private voting booth (a table that has a cover so no one next to you or above you can see who you choose).  Others who have a ballot wait for the booth behind a line; the voter – the one marking the ballot is guaranteed privacy from all sides.  The ballot has the names of the candidates in the constituency and their political affiliation.  The only action the voter has to take is put an “X” in the circle next to the name chosen to be the representative and then put the ballot in the box.  Voting is expected to be an anonymous system, you can choose your representative but no one should know who you chose unless you tell them.

In each constituency there are multiple polling stations (building/room with polling booths).  This allows voters across the constituency to cast a ballot, to vote.  When all the polling booths close the counting begins.

Canada uses the First Past The Post (FPTP) voting method.  This means that the candidate who receives the most votes becomes the representative.  Whether or not the the candidate has support of the majority (50% + 1), if s/he is first – has the most votes – the candidate becomes the representative.

In the Etobicoke North constituency the candidates are

The incumbent – MPP before the election was called and running for re-election – is Shafiq Qaadri.  For a candidate to win – become the MPP for Etobicoke North – the candidate must obtain the most votes.  After polling stations at Etobicoke North close the votes at each are counted and sorted.  The votes at each station are reported and totalled.  It is then found who has the most votes, who becomes the MPP.

Example*

The final total is

  • Doug Ford (33 votes)
  • Shafiq Qaadri (31 votes)
  • Mahamud Amin (31 votes)
  • Nancy Kaur Ghuman (3 votes)
  • Brianne Lefebvre (2 votes)

In this situation Doug Ford has highest number of votes (33/100).  At the same time he does not have support of the majority of the constituency (67% chose another candidate to be the MPP).  Doug Ford has the most votes so he becomes the MPP for Etobicoke North.  Being the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party Doug Ford will be the Premier of Ontario if the PC Party has a majority government or is chosen as the leader of a minority government.

FPTP is a criticised method of voting.  It has been examined many times.  There are many suggestions that FPTP should be changed.  Because the representative is based on number rather than support the representative there is often strategic voting.  In this hypothetical situation, although 40% of voters support Mahamud Amin/Andrea Horwath/NDP, 20% choose to cast a ballot/to vote for Shafiq Qaadri because they believe Mahamud Amin won’t win and they don’t want Doug Ford to win.  Therefore, based on percentage Mahamud Amin (NDP) has the support of the majority of the riding and should be MPP (31% – people who voted for Amin + 20% – people who voted for Qaadri because they believed Qaadri would win and didn’t want Ford to win).

At the same time there are split ballots.  While voters don’t want Doug Ford to be their representative they are not sure who is the best.  In this case 62% of voters did not choose Doug Ford; FPTP split the 62% that did not want Ford.  62% voted for Amin or Qaadri instead of Ford; neither had more votes than Ford; the votes intended to not choose Ford were split and Ford was chosen.

Electoral reform has been advocated by many Canadians and Canadian politicians.  There is consideration of changes in the reforms in Canada’s Election system.  For the 2018 Ontario Provincial Election the FPTP system will be used


*The outcome of this election is hypothetical for this article to explain the voting process and FPTP.  It is not a prediction.  It is not an endorsement of any kind from Nova’s Rays.

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