November 2020
Private Members' Bill on Ranked Ballots

2020-11-18 9:11:14 AM

On November 17th, one day after Bill 218: Supporting Ontario's Recovery and Municipal Elections Act passed third reading, MPP Mitzie Hunter introduced a Private Members' Bill (PMB), Bill 232: Local Choice for Local Elections Act.

The Bill proposes to amend the City of Toronto Act, 2006, and the Municipal Act, 2001, to allow ranked ballots under certain conditions. With regard to the Municipal Act, Bill 232 has seperate but similar provisions for a single-tier municipality and lower and upper tier municipalities allowing each to "pass a bylaw that adopts a ranked ballot election for the election of members of its council and establishes the procedure for the ranked ballot election".

As written, with regard to two-tier systems, it appears as though either an upper tier or a lower-tier municipality can choose to pass a bylaw allowing for ranked ballot voting.

The Bill also requires that a municipality conduct a public consultation on a ranked ballot bylaw before passage. Moreover, a new ranked ballot bylaw, or amendments or repeal of such a bylaw would be without effect until it is ratified by a vote of eligible voters on a fixed date set by Council. 

A ratification vote would also require the clerk of the municipality to give notice of the vote in The Ontario Gazette, showing the total number of votes for the affirmative and negative on the ratification.

The Bill provides the Lieutenant Governor in Council with the authority to make regulations prescribing public consultation requirements.

While several PMBs have received Government support in the Legislature this session, allowing the bills to proceed to Standing Committee for study and, in some cases, pass third reading (while not unheard of, this is unusual), it remains to be seen whether the Government will help this PMB along given the Government's defence of changes brought about in its own Bill 218.

AMCTO has not taken a formal position on ranked ballot voting, however generally, we believe that these types of decisions should be made at the local level. 


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