Mayor Fred Eisenberger supports changes to Hamilton’s voting system

News Mar 28, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger is willing to consider changing how residents vote for their municipal politicians in the 2018 election.

As voter turnout continues to drop in municipal election campaigns, the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs is reviewing the Ontario Elections Act that could include changing the first-past-the-post voting system that is currently in effect.  Premier Kathleen Wynne directed Minister Ted McMeekin last fall to consider other options of voting, such as ranked ballots.

“There are different ways of voting,” said Eisenberger. “I’m not sure how preferential voting works, but anything that would up voter turnout is worth looking at.”

Eisenberger says under the current system, voters have become turned off by the political system, believing they don’t have a choice.

“There is a perception the first-past-the-post kind of idea certainly favours incumbents,” he said. “I’m not sure what the answer is but if preferential voting is one of them then it is something to consider.”

Recently Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke in favour of a ranked voting system.

Under a ranked ballot system people make selections among the candidates. They identify their preferred candidate, and then mark their second best candidate, and so on, rather than putting a check mark beside one candidate.

If no one receives 50 per cent of the number one votes, an instant run-off is held. The last place candidate drops off and their second choice votes are allocated to the remaining candidates. The process continues until one person receives a majority of the votes.

Proponents say a ranked balloting system is more democratic and curbs vote splitting.

In Hamilton’s 2014 municipal election, Eisenberger won with 39.9 per cent of the vote. Former Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark garnered 31.5 per cent of the vote, while former councillor Brian McHattie received 20.3 per cent of the vote.

In the 2010 municipal election, Bob Bratina captured 37.5 per cent of the vote, followed by former mayor Larry Di Ianni with 28.4 per cent and Eisenberger, the incumbent, with 27.4 per cent.

Voter turnout in 2010 was one of the highest in the post-amalgamation city with 40.9 per cent of people coming out. But voter turnout dropped off four years later with only 33.5 per cent bothering to mark their ballots.

Eisenberger says moving towards a ranked ballot system could also encourage more people to vote since each ballot will count.

“People have become jaundice,” said Eisenberger. “(They say) ‘It really doesn’t matter if I show up, somebody is going to get elected and it’s probably not going to be the guy I picked.’ How do you address that, and what kind of tools can you employ to turn that around?”

McMeekin said his ministry’s review of the Elections Act could happen as early as late spring or early summer. Public consultations will begin “in the coming months.”

“There has been some important talk emanating out of Toronto about the possibility and potential of the ranked ballots,” said McMeekin. “We are committed to moving to provide the option to municipalities. Ranked ballots would be important and will ensure ultimately everybody has at least 50 per cent of the vote.”

Eisenberger says any provincial review should be completed at least a year before the 2018 election to give municipalities a chance to implement the system.

“If it’s going to be done, it’s got to start happening,” said Eisenberger.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger supports changes to Hamilton’s voting system

News Mar 28, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger is willing to consider changing how residents vote for their municipal politicians in the 2018 election.

As voter turnout continues to drop in municipal election campaigns, the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs is reviewing the Ontario Elections Act that could include changing the first-past-the-post voting system that is currently in effect.  Premier Kathleen Wynne directed Minister Ted McMeekin last fall to consider other options of voting, such as ranked ballots.

“There are different ways of voting,” said Eisenberger. “I’m not sure how preferential voting works, but anything that would up voter turnout is worth looking at.”

Eisenberger says under the current system, voters have become turned off by the political system, believing they don’t have a choice.

“There is a perception the first-past-the-post kind of idea certainly favours incumbents,” he said. “I’m not sure what the answer is but if preferential voting is one of them then it is something to consider.”

Recently Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke in favour of a ranked voting system.

Under a ranked ballot system people make selections among the candidates. They identify their preferred candidate, and then mark their second best candidate, and so on, rather than putting a check mark beside one candidate.

If no one receives 50 per cent of the number one votes, an instant run-off is held. The last place candidate drops off and their second choice votes are allocated to the remaining candidates. The process continues until one person receives a majority of the votes.

Proponents say a ranked balloting system is more democratic and curbs vote splitting.

In Hamilton’s 2014 municipal election, Eisenberger won with 39.9 per cent of the vote. Former Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark garnered 31.5 per cent of the vote, while former councillor Brian McHattie received 20.3 per cent of the vote.

In the 2010 municipal election, Bob Bratina captured 37.5 per cent of the vote, followed by former mayor Larry Di Ianni with 28.4 per cent and Eisenberger, the incumbent, with 27.4 per cent.

Voter turnout in 2010 was one of the highest in the post-amalgamation city with 40.9 per cent of people coming out. But voter turnout dropped off four years later with only 33.5 per cent bothering to mark their ballots.

Eisenberger says moving towards a ranked ballot system could also encourage more people to vote since each ballot will count.

“People have become jaundice,” said Eisenberger. “(They say) ‘It really doesn’t matter if I show up, somebody is going to get elected and it’s probably not going to be the guy I picked.’ How do you address that, and what kind of tools can you employ to turn that around?”

McMeekin said his ministry’s review of the Elections Act could happen as early as late spring or early summer. Public consultations will begin “in the coming months.”

“There has been some important talk emanating out of Toronto about the possibility and potential of the ranked ballots,” said McMeekin. “We are committed to moving to provide the option to municipalities. Ranked ballots would be important and will ensure ultimately everybody has at least 50 per cent of the vote.”

Eisenberger says any provincial review should be completed at least a year before the 2018 election to give municipalities a chance to implement the system.

“If it’s going to be done, it’s got to start happening,” said Eisenberger.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger supports changes to Hamilton’s voting system

News Mar 28, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger is willing to consider changing how residents vote for their municipal politicians in the 2018 election.

As voter turnout continues to drop in municipal election campaigns, the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs is reviewing the Ontario Elections Act that could include changing the first-past-the-post voting system that is currently in effect.  Premier Kathleen Wynne directed Minister Ted McMeekin last fall to consider other options of voting, such as ranked ballots.

“There are different ways of voting,” said Eisenberger. “I’m not sure how preferential voting works, but anything that would up voter turnout is worth looking at.”

Eisenberger says under the current system, voters have become turned off by the political system, believing they don’t have a choice.

“There is a perception the first-past-the-post kind of idea certainly favours incumbents,” he said. “I’m not sure what the answer is but if preferential voting is one of them then it is something to consider.”

Recently Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke in favour of a ranked voting system.

Under a ranked ballot system people make selections among the candidates. They identify their preferred candidate, and then mark their second best candidate, and so on, rather than putting a check mark beside one candidate.

If no one receives 50 per cent of the number one votes, an instant run-off is held. The last place candidate drops off and their second choice votes are allocated to the remaining candidates. The process continues until one person receives a majority of the votes.

Proponents say a ranked balloting system is more democratic and curbs vote splitting.

In Hamilton’s 2014 municipal election, Eisenberger won with 39.9 per cent of the vote. Former Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark garnered 31.5 per cent of the vote, while former councillor Brian McHattie received 20.3 per cent of the vote.

In the 2010 municipal election, Bob Bratina captured 37.5 per cent of the vote, followed by former mayor Larry Di Ianni with 28.4 per cent and Eisenberger, the incumbent, with 27.4 per cent.

Voter turnout in 2010 was one of the highest in the post-amalgamation city with 40.9 per cent of people coming out. But voter turnout dropped off four years later with only 33.5 per cent bothering to mark their ballots.

Eisenberger says moving towards a ranked ballot system could also encourage more people to vote since each ballot will count.

“People have become jaundice,” said Eisenberger. “(They say) ‘It really doesn’t matter if I show up, somebody is going to get elected and it’s probably not going to be the guy I picked.’ How do you address that, and what kind of tools can you employ to turn that around?”

McMeekin said his ministry’s review of the Elections Act could happen as early as late spring or early summer. Public consultations will begin “in the coming months.”

“There has been some important talk emanating out of Toronto about the possibility and potential of the ranked ballots,” said McMeekin. “We are committed to moving to provide the option to municipalities. Ranked ballots would be important and will ensure ultimately everybody has at least 50 per cent of the vote.”

Eisenberger says any provincial review should be completed at least a year before the 2018 election to give municipalities a chance to implement the system.

“If it’s going to be done, it’s got to start happening,” said Eisenberger.