Faqs / Why don’t we just rank candidates in our existing riding?
Understood simply as a type of ballot, preferential ballots allow voters to rank their preferences for different candidates, 1, 2, 3…. This feature can be used as part of an instant runoff-process to ensure that if voters’ first choices don’t elect anyone because no candidate has obtained a majority, their second or third choices may be used instead. Preferential ballots can be used in single-member or multi-member ridings.
The use of preferential ballots in single-winner ridings gives you a system called the Alternative Vote (AV), or Instant Runoff Voting. But so long as there’s only one winner in a riding, voters who did not cast their first choice for the winning candidate will still not elect the candidate that best represents them, and results are not proportional. Candidates from underrepresented parties would usually be eliminated in the second or third round of counting, in favour of larger parties.
The Alternative Vote system (AV) is not a proportional system and would not fill Canada’s democratic deficit. If Canadians wish to rank candidates by order of preference, they should insist on doing so in the context of a PR system. All that is required is to apply preferential ballots in multi-member ridings. This can be done in different ways.
- Stéphane Dion has proposed a system that he calls “P3.” The name P3 stands for Preferential, Proportional and Personal. Fair Vote Canada produced a video on this system.
- Another option is the Single Transferable Vote (STV), a model that received 58% support in the first BC referendum in 2005.
- Yet another option might be an adaptation of MMP that includes preferential ballots for the local seats. As originally proposed, this idea was called AV+ and it was only moderately proportional because the number of top-up seats was small, but there is no reason that this approach could not be as proportional as any other version of MMP. FVC has produced a video on this topic for the 2015 election current campaign.