Ranked choice voting

In the 2018 Municipal Elections, The City of London was the first municipality in Canada to use Ranked Choice Voting to elect our next Mayor and City Councillor.

Ranked Choice Voting is a preferential voting method, in which voters can choose and rank their top three candidates in order (1st, 2nd, 3rd).

Also referred to as "Instant-runoff voting", a winner is declared when a candidate receives 50 percent plus one or more of the total votes cast.

What changed?
  • new ballot
  • voters had the option to rank up to three candidates
  • winner needed to receive 50% plus one vote
  • the way we count the votes
How does ranked choice differ from first-past-the-post (FPTP)?

First past the post (2014)

Ranked choice (new for 2018)

Voters could select one candidate

Voters have the option of selecting up to three candidates, and ranking them by preference: 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice

The candidate with the most votes was elected

The candidate who receives 50 percent plus one vote will be elected

Frequently asked questions
What is ranked choice voting?

Ranked choice voting is a method in which voters are able to rank candidates based on their preference (i.e. first preference candidate, second preference candidate, etc.)

Does my municipality have to use ranked choice?

Ontario municipalities had the option to use ranked choice voting for the first time in the 2018 Municipal Elections but ranked choice voting is not mandatory for municipalities.

Can I only vote for one candidate?

Using ranked choice voting, you have the option to rank three candidates in order of preference.  In other words, you can still vote for only one candidate - it's your choice!

If a voter only ranks one candidate, that candidate would be the voter's highest preference. Only one candidate can be ranked as your top (1st) choice.

What if I vote for the same person as first, second and third choice?

Ranking the same candidate as your first, second and third choice has the same effect as marking that candidate as your first choice, and not making a second or third choice.

A candidate's chances of winning are not improved by selecting that candidate at more than one ranking on a ballot.

What if someone marks a second and third choice but not their first?

If a voter skips a ranking, the next highest ranking will be considered.

What would happen if all my choices were eliminated?

If all the candidates that you had listed as your preferences were eliminated, your ballot would become “exhausted.” Exhausted ballots are removed from the count, as they cannot be redistributed to any of the remaining candidates.

When there are only two candidates remaining, does 50% plus 1 still apply?

After the first round of counting, in subsequent rounds, it is possible for a candidate to be elected without reaching the threshold of 50% plus one vote.

For example, if there are only two candidates left and neither has reached the threshold, the candidate with the highest number of votes wins. 

What happens if there is a tie?

If two or more candidates are tied, the result of the previous round is used to determine which candidate will be eliminated. The candidate who had the fewest votes in the previous round is eliminated in the tied round.

If the candidates are tied in all of the previous rounds, the tie is decided by a random draw (i.e. by putting the candidates’ names in a hat or other container).

Do the ballots have to be counted electronically?

Ranked ballots can be counted manually or electronically. For instance, in their 2009 municipal election, Minneapolis, Minnesota (with a population of over 385,000 at the time) counted all of the ballots cast in its first choice ballot election by hand. The City of London intends to use an electronic method of counting.

How long will it take to count the votes?

The length of time it takes to count the votes may depend on the number of rounds of tabulation that are required to determine a winner. It may take several days to determine the results of the election. 

 

Marking the ballot

Ranked Choice Voting gives voters the option to rank their first, second, and third choices.

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Marking the ballot

Here's how to mark the ballot 

  • Use the pen provided at the voting station
  • Fill in the oval next to the candidate of your choice. You have the option of ranking up to three candidates.
  • Blacken the oval completely
  • Do not make any marks outside of the oval
Why ranked choice voting?

On Monday, October 22, 2018, London became the first municipality in Canada to vote using Ranked Choice Voting.

Every municipality in Ontario was given the option to choose Ranked Choice Voting for the 2018 Municipal Elections by means of the Municipal Elections Modernization Act, 2016

London's Elections Office sought online public input for several months and held four public information/engagement sessions across the city in early 2017.  The feedback received was presented to Council, who ultimately made the decision to move forward in 2018 using Ranked Choice Voting.

Ranked Choice Voting was passed at the May 1, 2017 Council meeting.  

Counting the votes

Counting begins after the polls close at 8 p.m.  Electronic tabulators are used to perform the count (we do not count by hand).

We have 15 separate races to count:

  • 1 Mayor
  • 14 Wards

We begin by counting all of the first choice votes in a race. If a candidate in that race has received 50 percent plus one of the votes, they are declared the winner.

If no candidate receives 50 percent plus one of the votes, then the candidate who received the least amount of votes is eliminated from the race. The votes earned by the remaining candidates are carried forward to the next round of counting. The eliminated candidate's ballots are redistributed to the remaining candidates, this time using the next choice indicated on those ballots.  All of the votes are then counted again. If any of the remaining candidates received 50 percent plus one of the votes, they are elected.  If not, the process of elimination is repeated until a winner is declared.

After round(s) of elimination have occurred and only two candidates remain, the candidate with the most votes wins.

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How a winner is determined

 

What if I mark my ballot this way?

The ballot below is considered spoiled because the highest ranking cannot be determined.

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Marking the ballot example one

Pear is considered the first choice.  If pear were to be eliminated, the ballot would be considered exhausted because the next highest ranking cannot be determined.

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Marking the ballot example two

Apple would be considered the first choice in the first round of counting.

If apple were to be eliminated, orange would be considered the second choice.

If orange were then to be eliminated, there would be no more choices left to count on this ballot and it would be considered exhausted.

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Marking the Ranked Ballot Example Three

Apple would be considered the first choice in the first round of counting.

If apple were to be eliminated in subsequent rounds, the ballot would be considered exhausted because there are not any other choices indicated.

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Marking the Ranked Ballot Example Four

 Apple is the first and only choice.

If apple were to be eliminated, this ballot would be considered exhausted as there are no other choices indicated.

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Marking the Ranked Ballot Example Five

Apple is the first choice. If apple were to be eliminated, this ballot would be considered exhausted as there are no other choices indicated. 

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Marking the Ranked Ballot Example Six

 The last three examples are considered to be exactly the same - one first choice vote for apple, and if apple is eliminated the ballot is considered exhausted. 

More information about Ranked Choice Voting

 

 

 

Last modified:Tuesday, September 29, 2020