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A new voting system may change how city council is elected in Timmins

The way Timmins voters cast their ballots could be changing for the next municipal election. The province is currently going through the motions of passing a legislation that will allow cities to use a ranked ballot system. This is opposed to the traditional first-past-the post-system.

If a candidate gets more than 50 per cent of the vote, they are the majority winner. However, if that doesn’t happen, the person with the fewest first place votes gets eliminated. The voter’s second place choices are then divided up. That continues on until there is a majority winner.

Timmins Mayor Steve Black is weighing in on the new system, saying it’s an interesting concept with benefits and negatives. He says you may end up capturing the people who just want change, voting for “anyone but the current candidate”. Black says that may lead to uninformed decisions. On the other hand, he says it will establish the majority of the population would have elected a certain candidate.

If you look at the last municipal election in Timmins, there were only three candidates for mayor, and Black got over 60 per cent of the votes. That means the voting system wouldn’t have mattered. But, if you look at Ward Five, which had multiple candidates, the ranked ballot system may have changed the outcome.

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Black says he’ll support the ranked ballot system for the 2018 election if that’s what the city wants. He says elections are about giving the people a voice and a say in how officials are elected. He says if Ontario does pass this legislation, and if the city does a referendum, he’s on board with whatever the outcome is.

The legislation still has to go through second and third reading before it is passed. If it does go through, each city in Ontario will have the option of using the ranked ballot system, or the traditional first-past-the-post system.

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