[cross-posted from the Unlock Democracy blog]
Canada uses a broken voting system called “First-Past-the-Post”. It’s a terrible system because it pushes out new voices, forces voters to choose ‘strategically’, encourages negative campaigns and often delivers us the exact opposite result of what we actually voted for.
But we don’t just use this voting system to choose our national parliament, we also use First-Past-the-Post to choose our provincial parliaments and all of our mayors and City Councillors. And it doesn’t stop there! Every week, across Canada, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of elections: Condo boards, residents groups, non-profit boards, labour elections, high school student councils, tenant boards, credit unions, and post-secondary student unions. And with few exceptions, almost ALL of these groups use First-Past-The-Post.
You’ve heard the phrase “Think Global, Act Local”. We think that’s good advice for the voting reform movement! It might be a long time before our federal government is ready to embrace real substantial voting reform. In the meantime, let’s start at home! There are elections all around us, and we can help plant seeds of change by reforming local elections in our own communities. The best way to teach voters about alternative voting methods, isn’t through textbooks and leaflets. The best teaching method is to get them to actually use alternative methods, in their own personal and professional lives.
If we can convince hundreds of boards, councils and unions to abandon First-Past-The-Post, we’ll have taken a huge leap towards reforming our provincial and federal elections.
Campus unions can lead by example, and be a catalyst for change!
In a few weeks, we’re launching our Campus Democracy Project with an ‘UnConference’ to be held in Toronto on January 24th. The afternoon conference (1pm to 5pm) is open to everyone, and will include a free lunch!
The agenda will be set by the participants, within these basic themes:
• How many campus unions are currently using ranked ballots or proportional models?
• How can we measure democracy on Campus, and rank universities and colleges?
• How can we boost student participation and make the experience meaningful?
• The role of student democracy in building good citizenship practices.