Ottawa residents could soon have the opportunity to make their city elections more fair and friendly.  On Monday, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ted McMeekin, will introduce legislation allowing cities to change their voting system to Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) also known as Ranked Ballots.  Local advocacy group, Ottawa123, have long called for changes to the Municipal Elections Act to allow cities in Ontario to make the switch.   The move followed a summer of public consultations, during which the provincial government heard from Ontarians across the province about ways to make our city election processes more accessible and effective.

“This small, simple change to Ottawa’s local elections could have a significant impact in increasing voter turnout and focusing campaigns on issues rather than mudslinging,” says Colum Grove-White, spokesperson for Ottawa123.  Ranked Choice Voting allows voters to rank electoral candidates, in order of preference.  To see a full explanation of how the system works, click here.   

Ranked Choice Voting ensures that a candidate must win with over 50 per cent of the vote, eliminating vote splitting and strategic voting which are hallmarks of the first-past-the-post electoral system.  Because candidates will be vying for their opponents’ supporters second choice votes, elections would take on a more friendly tone which focuses the debate on issues rather than negative campaigning.  In 2014, nine councillors were elected with less than 50 per cent of the vote.     

Ottawa123 is a non-partisan group of volunteers asking Ottawa City Council to change the current First-Past-the-Post voting system to a Ranked Choice Voting.  A growing number of city councillors support it, and over 2000 have signed the petition online.  More details can be found on, and any questions can be directed to Colum Grove-White at (cell: 613 324 9753) or Kaite Harris at (cell: 613 697 8609)

Quick facts:

  • The 2014 City of Ottawa elections had one of the most dismal voter turnout rates, with just under 40 per cent.
  • Nine councillors won with under 50 per cent of the vote in 2014 elections
  • Ranked Choice Voting is used in cities across the world, including Australia, England, New Zealand, and the United States.
  • All Canadian political parties use Ranked Choice Voting to pick their party leaders.
  • Over 2000 people have signed a petition to change the City of Ottawa’s elections to Ranked Choice Voting
  • Canada is the only OECD country which uses the first-past-the-post electoral system at every level of government.