Electoral reform is making waves across the Atlantic

Josiah Mortimer, former Head of Communications

Posted on the 3rd November 2016

There’s something in the air, it seems. As I write, electoral reformers in Canada and the US have a real chance of securing a fairer voting system.

As US voters prepare to pick their next President, there’s another interesting vote happening which we’re keeping a close eye on.

In the state of Maine, voters are heading to the ballot box in five days to decide whether to adopt ‘ranked voting’ (the Alternative Vote) for ALL of their state representatives.

While it’s hard to predict the outcome, the signs look fairly positive so far. All three of the polls done on the initiative show a majority of voters in favour – with an average of 52% supporting, 30% against (roughly a fifth are undecided). Our friends at FairVote – the US equivalent of the ERS – are campaigning hard alongside many others and we have our fingers firmly crossed for them.

Success there would be a breakthrough for electoral reform in the US – and could get the ball rolling for fair votes across the country.

That’s not all though – Chief Executive Katie Ghose and Deputy Chief Executive Darren Hughes have just come back from Canada, where they made the case for real PR that puts citizens at the centre of their democracy

The Special Committee on Electoral Reform will be making a recommendation to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government on what voting system to use, and the ERS were invited to give evidence to the committee.

Watch Chief Executive Katie Ghose and Deputy Chief Executive Darren Hughes speak to the MPs here:



The movement is building at a local level too. In Prince Edward Island, Canada, citizens are currently voting in a (non-binding) plebiscite on whether to adopt a proportional voting system for the island. And better still – they’re ranking them by preference!

There are five options, including Mixed Member Proportional, the Additional Member System used for the Scottish Parliament as well as the Welsh and London Assemblies.

And in Ontario, municipalities now have the power to move to ‘ranked ballots’, with campaigns up and running in Toronto, London, Ottawa, Whitby, Windsor, Guelph, Barrie, Hamilton and Sudbury.

It’s exciting to see the campaign for fair votes build across the few democracies that still use First Past the Post.

If you’re on Twitter, make sure to follow the groups at the forefront of these vital campaigns, which include @FairVote@rcvMaine and @FairVoteCanada.

Securing electoral reform in Canada and the US would send a huge message to politicians here – that the time is now for PR.

We’re hoping to see some big strides forward in the coming weeks, and hope you are too. We’ll keep you updated!

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