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Liberals await results from new leadership voting system

Liberal supporters were out early in anticipation of the arrival of the six candidates for the Federal Liberal Leadership.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

More than 100,000 people have voted for the next Liberal leader and results are expected to be announced about three hours after the polls close Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. Here's how the voting works.

Who's voting?

Members of the federal Liberal party, as well as Canadians who signed up as "supporters" and registered to vote in the leadership race. For supporters, who aren't dues-paying members of the party, it was a two-step process: many were signed up through a leadership campaign and then had to register again with the party to vote. That's why there are 127,000 eligible voters, down from nearly 300,000 total of supporters and members first announced.

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How do they vote?

Supporters and members vote online or by phone. They cast a preferential ballot: they rank the candidates by order of preference for leader. You can see how many registered voters have cast their ballot on

This is the first time the Liberal Party of Canada hasn't selected its leader through a delegated convention. The electronic voting system is run by Dominion Voting Systems.

How are those votes counted?

As the Liberal constitution explains, each of Canada's 308 federal electoral ridings is allocated 100 points. Those points are divided up among the leadership candidates depending on the percentage of support they got from voters in that riding. Say Wilfrid Laurier got 67 per cent of the vote in London West and Louis St. Laurent got 33 per cent of the vote. Mr. Laurier would get 67 points and Mr. St. Laurent would get 33 points.

A candidate must get more than half of the national points to be elected leader. With 308 ridings, each with 100 points, the successful candidate needs at least 15,401 points.

This is similar to how Stephen Harper was elected leader of the Conservative party in 2004. By contrast, the NDP leadership convention in 2012 was "one member, one vote" so all votes had same weight, no matter which riding they came from.

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Is every vote worth the same?

Not exactly. Allocating equal points to each riding ignores the number of registered voters in that riding. So, say, an Ontario riding with 600 voters is given the same number of points as Nunavut, which has 56 registered voters. That Ontario vote would be worth about 0.17 points in the national contest, while the Nunavut ballot would be worth 1.79 points – or 10 times as much.

What if there's no winner on the first count of each voter's first choice?

The candidate with the fewest first-choice votes nationally will be eliminated from the contest and their second choices will get those points. This continues until one candidate has more than half of the national points.

When is the winner announced?

Polls are open until 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. The new Liberal leader will be announced around 6 p.m. ET at a news conference in Ottawa. The full ballot and riding-by-riding results will be announced at the same time.

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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More


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