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Bob Jonkman's thoughts on politics

Archive for July, 2015

Response to the Ontario Government’s Municipal Elections Act Review

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 27th July 2015

Trillium

Trillium

As requested by Fair Vote Waterloo, I have responded to the Ontario government’s consultation on the Municipal Elections Act Review. As a member of Fair Vote the issue of ranked ballots was most important to me, but I also answered some of the other questions.

Ranked Ballots

What are your thoughts on using ranked ballots for Ontario municipal elections? Ranked ballots are a much fairer method of electing our representatives. A single run-off vote for a one-office position is acceptable, but where there are multiple similar offices (councillors) the election should always be multi-member. Single-member wards do not give the voters a full spectrum of elected candidates. Only one view is represented in any one ward; a plurality view tends to be replicated in every ward, so minority views are not represented at all. Multi-member elections will allow a wide range views to be represented by different elected members.
Should municipalities be able to use ranked ballots for certain offices and not others? For example, only for mayor? All offices should be elected by ranked ballots, with similar offices (councillors) always represented in multi-member ridings.
Should public consultation by a municipality be required before implementing ranked ballots or before changing from ranked ballots back to the current system? In a democracy, the citizens should make the decisions in how they’re governed. There should be a referendum, province-wide, that has a well-worded explanation of the proposed ranked ballot system, including multi-member elections for council positions. However, all municipalities should use the same voting system. There is no fairness in the electoral system if the citizens of one municipality are to be better represented in a multi-member riding than other other citizens in a different municipality with single-member wards.
What form should that consultation take? There should be a province-wide referendum at the next municipal election, with the voting system and a clear referendum question chosen by a citizens’ assembly composed of at least one citizen from each municipality. It will be difficult for such a citizens’ assembly to come to an agreement, but democracy was never designed to be fast and easy.
Unlike the current system, ranked ballots can involve multiple rounds of counting before all the seats to be elected have been won.
How much information would you want about election results? For example, where there have been multiple rounds of counting would you want to see the results of each round of counting or just the final results? All the results, including intermediate rounds of ballot counts, should be published. Complete voting data should be made available as government Open Data, curated by the province instead of each individual municipality.
There are a number of other important decisions that the province will need to consider when determining how ranked ballots could work in Ontario. Throughout this review we will be consulting with Ontarians, municipalities and experts on ranked ballots to help us make these decisions.
Are there other ideas you wish to share on ranked ballots that you would like us to consider? Don’t rely only on appointed experts when evaluating a new voting system. This is an opportunity for participatory democracy, where citizens themselves can determine how they wish to be governed. The citizens of Ontario are well-educated, and can make the best decision for their own governance.

Please do not provide any additional personal or identifying information such as opinions about individuals or names and addresses as part of your response.

To help us make the most effective use of your comments, please consider identifying your municipality or, if you prefer, your geographic region of the province (for example, Southwestern Ontario) or whether you live in a rural or urban area.

If you are providing comments on behalf of an organization, please provide its name. If you are providing comments on behalf of a municipality, please provide its name and indicate whether the submission has been endorsed by a council resolution.

Name of municipality/region/organization: (optional): resident of Woolwich Township, Waterloo Region.
Your responses may be used for the purposes of the ministry’s consultation process. Please note the ministry may summarize and share them, including with other ministries and the public. Names of organizations and persons who indicate an affiliation may also be shared.

Overview of the Municipal Elections Act

From your experience, what parts of municipal elections in Ontario currently work well? In my municipality the ballots are OMRX (optical marks) sheets, so that the ballots can be counted electronically, but remain available for verification by hand-counting. This is a good system, far preferable to a purely electronic voting system.
From your perspective, what parts of municipal elections in Ontario should be changed? Municipal elections seem to be run well in my municipality.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience with municipal elections? Nothing else…

Accessibility

Have you experienced accessibility challenges or barriers related to voting or running for office? If so, what were those challenges and what would help overcome those barriers? In my municipality, there have been no physical obstacles to voting.

Enforcement

In light of recent events in Woolwich Township, the secion on Enforcement was particualry relevant:

Do you feel that municipal election rules are effectively enforced? Why? Why not? Municipal elections rules are not effectively enforced. In my municipality, Woolwich Township, there have been irregularities in elected members’ finances. The Elections Act seems to be clear that such elected members are to be immediately suspended or removed from office, yet the municipality chose to ignore that and allowed the members to continue to sit on Council and govern. The Act is clear; and so municipalities should have no discretion when it comes to enforcement.

–Bob.

Trillium by Laurel L. Russwurm is used under a TrilliumCC BY 2.0 license.

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Lecture on Civic Participation and e-Voting, Monday, 27 July 2015

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 24th July 2015

Kirk Zurell

Kirk Zurell @kzurell

There is a lecture on Civic Participation and e-Voting, taking place at Conestoga College next Monday, 27 July 2015. The lecturer, Kirk Zurell is well known in the Kitchener-Waterloo tech community; I’m planning on going.

You can register at Eventbrite: All Those in Favour, Click ‘Aye’

From Conestoga College Events:

User Experience Guest Lecture Series: All Those in Favour, Click ‘Aye’ – The Struggle for Civic Tech

27 July 27 2015, 5:00pm

If a billion people around the world can over-share their lives on social media, why are voting rates still so low? Can e-participation systems coax more residents into taking part in civic life?

 

In this session, we will apply technology to the role of the voter, resident, and taxpayer. Civic technologies, including e-participation are increasing in popularity, with dedicated labs and businesses springing up to help citizens manage their “red boxes.”

 

How do user experiences and expectations compare to those of commercial services? How does civic tech affect the roles of the citizen, the political, and the civil servant?

Speaker:

Kirk Zurell, Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity (REAP) Professional University of Waterloo

 

Kirk Zurell writes op-ed articles for newspapers on topics in civic life. Kirk takes part in civic life through the Compass Kitchener citizen engagement committee and Waterloo Voter Support Committee. He provides information technology support at The Working Centre and investigates digital media at University of Waterloo’s Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity (REAP).

Time:

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Location:

Conestoga College, Doon Campus, Main Building, Room 2A301 Map

To Register:

This guest lecture is free to attend but does require registration: Eventbrite: All Those in Favour, Click ‘Aye’

 

For more information, contact Dalibor Dvorski. ddvorski@conestogac.on.ca

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