Cornwall to explore ranked election ballots

Cornwall Coun. Elaine MacDonald speaks about starting a study on ranked balloting in the next municipal election during a council meeting in Cornwall, Ont. on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The city will start the process later this month to explore the option of ranked ballots in the next municipal election.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald championed the move to explore the option, which has to go through an extensive public process if it’s to be implemented in the 2018 election.

Council heard only three Ontario municipalities have looked at exploring the option. Currently there is no Ontario municipality that has ranked ballots and the practice is uncharted territory.

If it were to go ahead, the city would have to give notice in two days of an open house and pass a bylaw by May 15 in order to have ranked ballots next year, according to the report.

Coun. Maurice Dupelle says he supports more public engagement and the possibility of a referendum on the issue.

But some members of council aren’t too hot on the issue.

“Is the system broken?” Coun. Andre Rivette asked, adding that the voting machines would be an added expense to replace the current technology. “Why are we trying to fix something that isn’t broke?”

The report does state that were would be “significant additional unbudgeted costs” associated with a ranked ballot election.

“We are going down a road here we don’t need to go down,” Coun. Denis Carr added in citing the federal government’s move to abandoned electoral reform.

While he supports doing the research, “it’s a convoluted, complicated method,” Coun. David Murphy said.

Coun. Mark MacDonald added that if public meetings were being held that maybe the city should also look at the ward system and the size of council since the city would be doing a referendum on ranked ballots.

The recommendation to study ranked balloting passed a council vote.

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