Ontarians to participate in referendum vote this fall
Voters across Ontario will be able to participate in the first referendum on electoral reform since 1972 while casting a vote in the provincial election on October 10. They will choose between continuing the current electoral system and adopting a new system proposed by a Citizens' Assembly.
The current electoral system is often called First- Past-the-Post, where the candidate with the most votes wins and becomes the representative for the electoral district in the provincial legislature. The political party that wins the most ridings then forms a government.
The proposed new option is called Mixed-Member- Proportional because it combines two systems, First- Past-the-Post and Proportional Representation. If this method is chosen on election day and the option is adopted by the winning party, there will be two votes available in future elections. One would be to choose a local member and the second to choose a political party.
The provincial legislature would then have 129 seats, 90 for local members and 39 for 'list' members. The party with the most seats including local and list members would form a government. With this system local members would continue to be elected based on the First- Past-the-Post system but would have to represent many more constituents, their ridings being far larger than those for Members of Parliament.
Total votes for each political party with more than three per cent of the vote would be divided by the number seats in the legislature to determine how many seats each party is entitled to.
For example, if a party was entitled to 50 seats and only had 45 elected local members, five list members would be appointed by their party to fill the remaining seats.
To ensure voters are aware of this, Elections Ontario launched the first phase of its referendum public education campaign on August 1.
"Our mandate is to ensure that Ontario voters are not only aware that a referendum is occurring on October 10, but believe they are adequately prepared to make an informed decision based on their individual considerations and priorities," said John Hollins, chief electoral officer.
"Through our past experience and ongoing consultation with political science and literacy experts, we have designed a program that we believe reflects Ontario's scope and diversity, delivers impartial educational information and allows voters to become informed through a variety of mediums. It also allows us the flexibility to make adjustments based on voter questions as we move forward towards the actual referendum date."
As part of the education program, Elections Ontario has created a website www.yourbigdecision.ca, and a phone line, 1-888- 668-8683, so residents can obtain more information about the referendum among other tools.