In 2006 I produced a fun project called ‘City Idol’. We encouraged citizens of all ages from across Toronto to stand on a stage and compete – not with songs, but with their ideas. We attracted 70 candidates, and over 600 audience members. It was one of the largest events of the 2006 city election. We ended up with four diverse winners, one for each part of the city. The ‘prize’ for each winner: an election campaign. We helped all four candidates run for office in the real election.
I learned many things during the process. But the main lesson I took from the City Idol process was this: young candidates, female candidates and visible minority candidates suffer under our current voting system. I saw with my own eyes, over and over again, how our elections result in vote-splitting, strategic voting and candidates being pushed out of races.
The obvious solution was runoff voting. I’d seen it used by ALL of our provincial and federal parties. With runoff voting, there is no vote-splitting, no strategic voting, and much more choice for voters. So I spent the next four years researching the benefits and practicalities of runoff voting for municipal elections. I met with activists and politicians across North America, and learned that runoff voting was quite common in the US. In fact, most American cities use runoffs! I also began to realise how common runoff voting was in Canada, …but not for our City Councils.
In 2010, just before the city election, I launched the Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto (RaBIT). We’ve spend the last year putting together our website, carrying our research, creating materials and talking to small groups about how we can transform our local elections.
This week, we’re hosting our first public event, and we’d like you to join us! We’ll explain why we believe that runoff voting would:
• Eliminate vote-splitting
• Reduce strategic voting
• Ensure majority support
• Discourage negative campaigning
• Provide more choice for voters
The public info night is on Wednesday at 6:30pm, at City Hall – Committee Room #1.
Juice and Cookies will be served. Hope you can make it!