Sunday, February 28, 2016

Canada considers alternatives to current FPTP voting system


The Democratic Institutions Minister of Canada, Maryan Monsef, recently started the discussion of changing Canada's voting system from first past the post to something different. She specifically said "a mature democracy like Canada can do better" (CBCNews 1).

She stated that the primary goal of the change would be to improve voter turnout in elections.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau originally brought up the idea, saying that he wanted the last election would be the last FPTP vote Canada would have. One of the main concerns about the current system is that the number of seats that a party wins in parliament is not very representative of the population (CBCNews 2).

Of course, the road to determining an effective voting is not very smooth. Like we studied in class, there is no such thing as a perfect voting system, and all have their flaws. However, the Canadian administration is looking into any and all alternative systems.

While no parties support specific voting systems, Conservatives say that this is a move by the Liberal Prime Minister to make sure the Liberals can win the election more often. They argue that a new system like the ranked ballot would appeal to Liberals because the Liberal party is more moderate, and would therefore earn more votes than the Conservative party would (CBCNews 2).

Trudeau chose Monsef to work on finding an ideal voting system because she apparently has no prior opinions on the issue (CBCNews 1).

Sources 3 and 4 are really good for reading about the different types of voting systems that the Parliament is considering.

While it may be difficult for Trudeau to achieve his goal to never have another FPTP election, I think it is definitely a worthwhile thing for Canada to try to do. I want to say that the US should try something similar, but I do not think that we necessarily need a complete change in the system to improve turnout. For Canada, even though  I think that a ranked ballot would be effective in achieving the purpose of improving voter turnout, considering the fact that many people do not vote because they feel like they are being forced to vote between two "electable" party candidates rather than who they really want to vote for.

If you read the articles about the different voting systems, which one do you think would work best in Canada?
Is it time for the US to switch voting systems as well? Why or why not?
Is it necessarily a bad thing if voting systems favor certain parties?

Sources:

1. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/monsef-electoral-reform-changes-referendum-1.3428593

2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/justin-trudeau-electoral-reform-first-past-the-post-1.3292694

3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/electoral-reform-which-party-would-benefit-most-1.2857321

4. http://www.metronews.ca/news/canada/2016/02/01/a-primer-on-alternatives-to-canada-s-first-past-the-post-electoral-system.html

2 comments:

Jack Loar said...

I think that Canada should switch to the Single Transferable Vote as mentioned in the fourth source Sameer listed. I personally like STV because it allows for both proportional voting and local representation in order to maximize the satisfaction of the voters. However, it is a fair criticism that STV is immensely more complicated than FTPT and would require transparency in the calculations over who would win each seat, but overall it is a much better choice than FPTP.

I think that the United States could switch to STV for the election of its representatives. Because STV requires multiple winning candidates per region, districts would need to combine for the voting system to work properly, but I think that it will be worth the change to have more representative representatives. Unfortunately, it would likely require some kind of Constitutional amendment to successfully introduce the STV system, so it is unlikely to happen.

I do not think that it is necessarily bad if voting systems favor certain parties. For most of the systems, it favors parties that have a larger proportional number of votes than seats, in which case changing makes everything more fair for those smaller parties. The biggest requirement for a voting system in my opinion is that its results accurately reflect what the voters want.

If anybody wants to see more about the single transferable vote, I highly recommend this video.

Tara Young said...

While Canada is looking to switch its voting system to improve voter turnout, I do not think that it is time for the US to switch voting systems as well. I believe that it is a generally easy process for voters to vote if they desired to now in the US. If the voting system were to change, people who do not want to vote or are uninterested in voting will still not vote unless required to. I do think that voting systems should be neutral concerning parties. It would be unfair for one party to have a natural advantage over another party and there could be nothing done about it. I would minimize the votes of the minority, thus the democracy would not be fair.