How the New System Works
- Each party nominates its local candidates (as now), as well as a list of candidates for the whole province, in the order that it wants them to be elected. Before the election, parties must submit their lists, and the details of the process they used to create them, to Elections Ontario. Elections Ontario will publish this information widely, so voters will know who is on a list before they vote for a party. Voters will be able to assess whether a party created its list in a fair and transparent way. Voters will also be able to see whether a party’s list has a good balance of men and women, includes candidates from all of Ontario’s regions, and reflects the diversity of Ontario’s population.
- Voters vote for a local candidate and for a party. The party vote determines the share of seats a party wins in the legislature.
- If a party doesn’t have enough local members elected to match its share of the party vote, it gets a “top-up” of seats in the legislature. These seats are filled by list members elected by voters across the province through the party side of the ballot. The list seats are used to compensate for lack of proportionality in the election of local members.
For example, imagine a legislature with 100 seats. If a party receives 25% of the party vote, it is entitled to about 25 seats. If it elects only 20 local members, the top 5 members from its list are elected to bring its total share of seats in the legislature up to 25%. (See page 13 for more details on how this works.)
- A party must have clear support – at least 3% of the party vote across the province – for candidates from its list to be elected to the legislature.
Key Features of the New System
Greater Voter Choice
- Voters get two votes on a single ballot – one for a local candidate and a second one for a party. (See page 7 for a sample ballot.)
Fairer Election Results
- Election results are proportional: The share of seats in the legislature that each party wins is roughly equal to its share of the party vote. For example, if a party receives 25% of the vote, it wins about 25% of the seats in the legislature. In Ontario’s current system, Single Member Plurality (also called “First Past the Post”), a party can win many votes, yet end up having few seats or no seats.
- The new system retains strong local representation through 90 local members. Local members are elected in the same way they are now. The candidate who wins the most votes represents the electoral district.
- Thirty-nine members (called “list members”) are elected province-wide through the party vote side of the ballot. These members provide all Ontarians with a new kind of representation. For example, list members will complement the work of local members on issues that may affect a region or the whole province.
- Local members and list members together make up 129 seats in the legislature. By adding a total of 22 seats,1 the new system achieves proportionality and provides more representation for Ontario’s population, which has grown by about 1.4 million since the 1996 Census of Population was taken. At 129 seats, the legislature will be close to the size it was from 1987 to 1999, when it had 130 seats. Ontario will still have fewer representatives for its population than any other province or territory in Canada.
1 The Ontario legislature currently has 103 seats. Beginning with the next election on October 10, 2007, there will be 107 seats. Please visit Elections Ontario’s website for more information on electoral districts: www.electionsontario.on.ca.