Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ranked ballot voting is automatic electoral cooperation

Thanks to opposition party vote splitting, Harper weaseled dozens of center-left seats in 2011 allowing him to win 100% of the power on 40% of the vote.

One idea has been put forward to prevent a repeat in 2015: electoral cooperation. It has been advocated by notable Canadians like Elizabeth May, Joyce Murray, Nathan Cullen and even Andrew Coyne.

The premise is that in key ridings opposition parties only run one opposition candidate. Then immediately after the election, electoral reform is put in place to stop the perverse election outcome from happening again.

Cooperation is harder than it looks

There are a few problems with this approach. For one, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for parties to agree on which party runs a candidate in which riding.

Second, the media would call this move “undemocratic” because it takes away the choice of voters.

Third, Canadians are divided on the kind of electoral reform they support.

Fourth, Liberal and NDP party leaders have outright rejected electoral cooperation.

Plan B

Odds are electoral cooperation won’t be needed to stop Harper in 2015. Voters will be begging for change by then. If Harper doesn’t win a majority, opposition parties are going to oust him with some form of alternative government.

The real problem is what comes after. Since minority governments don’t last long, the Cons could be back in power for another decade as soon as 2017.

Alternative cooperation

Justin Trudeau’s idea of ranked ballot voting offers the perfect stopgap solution. It’s a minor change to our existing system that puts in place automatic electoral cooperation.

Instead of parties deciding which candidate to run, voters decide which center-left candidate they like best by ranking choices. This allows one to vote “Anyone But Conservative.”

Since this stops vote splitting, the Cons will never again get their hands on center-left ridings.

Progressive voting reform

Since the ranked ballot is only a small change, it’s not the final word on voting reform. Proportional Representation supporters could still continue with their fight for fair voting.

What’s best is that this would cut corrupt First-Past-the-Post out of the picture — only democratic voting systems would be on the table.

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