Friday, July 29, 2016

Electoral Reform Possibilities

Though I'm not making videos just now, I would like to look at some possibilities for electoral reform beyond the simple basic 5 ideas.

Running Mates
One idea I like that is used in Montreal is the idea that some candidates have, for lack of a better term, running mates in their ridings. Dennis Coderre ran in the seat of Ovide-Clermont, but because he became Mayor (the Mayor has his own seat) his "co-candidate", Jean-Marc Gibeau, became the councillor for that seat.

This idea would see EVERY member of Parliament have a running mate. If the member resigns or passes away in office, the running mate would then be appointed to fill out the remainder of the term, should they accept. This is important too as it enables some of the below ideas to become possible.

Leader seats
This idea would be to allow leaders of parties that are "big enough" to not represent any particular riding, but rather, to have a seat of their own by virtue of them being a party leader. This would likely be tied to party status at 12 seats. PEI is debating this in their own electoral reform. Running mates, as outlined above, would allow for leaders to still retain a seat in Parliament even if they don't reach party status.

Bonus seats
One of the biggest concerns voters have is that PR would lead to endless minority governments. Countries like Italy and Greece give away bonus seats to allay this fear. In Italy it's very heavy handed; whichever party wins, even by 1 vote, so long as it gets over 40% of the vote, gets 54% of all available seats. In Greece, they get 50 extra seats. You can read more about it here. This sort of idea might be popular in Canada.
The idea then would be that each government would get 40 "Cabinet Seats". These MPs would be removed from their ridings, and their running mates would take those spots, and the members of Cabinet would need to come from those 40. Additionally, the cabinet would stop being part of the caucus of the governing party; though the governing party could still meet with cabinet in it's caucus room.
This would effectively make cabinet separate from the governing party. While it would encourage majorities, it would also encourage parties to more easily revolt against their own cabinets, and as such, hopefully, increase accountability.

Direct Election of PM
In a system based on Proportional Representation, where minority governments are all but guaranteed, another idea might be to directly elect the Prime Minister. Israel tinkered with this for a few elections before abandoning it. In this system, Parliament would look share the proportionality of votes cast by voters, but government would be formed by the winner of the direct election, not necessarily the winner of the most seats.

The systems below are unlikely to ever take shape in reality, but are interesting to look at nonetheless.

Optional Vetos
Know who you don't want to win, but unsure who, of the remainder, you do want to win? A Veto system would allow a voter to cast a negative ballot against a candidate rather than a ballot for a candidate.

100 votes
Also known as range voting, each voter would be given 100 "ballots" to distribute among the candidates however they wish. It's possible, in these systems, to allow a voter to rank someone negatively.

Dollar Votes
Here's one from a dystopian future; each voter would "buy" votes from the government, 1 per dollar, and whichever candidate receives the most votes wins.

Here's one that might cause a dystopian future; each voter casts a ballot like normal, but when it's time to count the ballots, only one is randomly pulled out of the ballot box for each riding, and whomever has won on that single ballot becomes the MP.


  1. Range Voting does not limit you to a number of votes. You rate each candidate independently. You can give everyone a 10 if you like.

    You're thinking of cumulative voting.

  2. Range Voting does not limit you to a number of votes. You rate each candidate independently. You can give everyone a 10 if you like.

    You're thinking of cumulative voting.