Voters are ready for change at the ballot box, according to a survey conducted by the riding’s federal Liberal association.
“The message is very clear – Simcoe North residents believe that the first-past-the-post system of voting is both inadequate and inferior to the two main alternatives: proportional representation and ranked balloting,” said riding association president Liz Riley.
Of the 458 residents who completed the recent survey, 78 per cent agreed the existing system should be replaced.
Eighty per cent viewed proportional representation as an improvement over the current system, while slightly fewer – 79 per cent – favour ranked balloting.
Ninety-seven per cent of respondents support increased powers for Elections Canada to investigate questionable election practices.
Residents in eight municipalities participated in the survey conducted between Sept. 20 and Oct. 5, along with both First Nations communities.
The results were included in the riding association’s submission to the Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform.
According to Riley, the submission “represents the views of a broad swath of Simcoe North residents, and it demonstrates strong support for reform in the way we vote.”
Under the current system, a party can form a majority government with less than 40 per cent of the popular vote, as the Conservatives did in 2011 and the Liberals did in 2015.
That leads many to argue the result often fails to accurately reflect the will of voters.
“I think there are merits to those arguments,” Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton said. “When you look at other electoral systems around the world, there is no doubt that most democracies have evolved to some kind of electoral system where minority interests can have a greater hand in the decision-making process, if I could say that broadly.”
Under a system of proportional representation, parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them – 39 per cent of the votes would equal 39 per cent of the seats in parliament, for example.
While some of the alternatives appear complex on the surface, voters in other nations –including New Zealand, which moved to a mixed-member proportional system in the mid-90s – have adjusted well, Stanton said.
“Inside an election cycle or two, they pretty much got it down,” he said. “They know how to work with it.”
Residents are invited to email their thoughts on electoral reform to [email protected]
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