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Voters arrive at a Toronto polling station to cast their ballot in the federal election on May 02, 2011. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
Voters arrive at a Toronto polling station to cast their ballot in the federal election on May 02, 2011. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

City council backs electoral reform Add to ...

Toronto city council has voted in favour of electoral reform and will ask the province to amend legislation so it can use ranked choice balloting in municipal elections and allow permanent residents to vote.

Council debated the issue for several hours Tuesday before voting in favour of the changes.

Councillors also voted to form a working group to implement Internet voting for people with disabilities in time for the 2014 municipal election, and to monitor developments in Internet voting to determine if it should be adopted city-wide in 2018.

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Toronto elections currently operate under the first-past-the-post system, just as is done in every other jurisdiction in Canada. Simply put, whoever gets the most votes wins.

Under ranked choice balloting a candidate would have to earn a majority of the vote. If none of the candidates had more than 50 per cent after the first count, a series of run-off elections would be held.

Dave Meslin, a civic activist with the Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto, said he was “thrilled” with Tuesday’s result.

“We’re really excited to see the city of Toronto taking a step forward toward fair and friendly elections,” he said.

Desmond Cole, the former project co-ordinator of I Vote Toronto, a campaign to extend the vote to permanent residents, said he was “relieved.”

“The fear that I think a lot of councillors expressed on the floor today stems from the fact that we have problems with status in this country. We have tiers of status and we have to fix that,” he said.

Mayor Rob Ford was among those to oppose the reforms and he said after that he thinks council wasted its time because the province won’t act on the requests.

Both Mr. Meslin and Mr. Cole said they expect the province to acknowledge council’s wish. Councillor Joe Mihevc agreed.

“This particular premier has always said she will listen to the voice of the city as expressed in council. Council has expressed its will and I think, frankly, it would be appropriate for her to listen to that advice,” Mr. Mihevc said.

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