If approved, the new system would be in place during the election expected in 2011, and it would end a way of voting that has existed in Ontario since before Confederation and which generally allows parties to command strong legislative majorities without obtaining the support of at least 50 per cent of the electorate.
Cheers and applause rippled through a large meeting room in a government office tower when it was announced that the group of 102 citizens, who had been selected at random by the province and volunteered to study Ontario's voting procedure, approved the referendum by 94 in favour to eight against.
Those who favoured the referendum said the existing voting regime wasn't fair because it had led to a string of majority governments without majority electoral backing. "We wanted to change that in order to get fairer results," said Mayte Darraidou, who is from Toronto and was on the so-called Citizens' Assembly that made the decision.
As with the 2005 British Columbia referendum on STV/choice voting, this referendum must achieve a 60% super-majority to pass. In addition, it must garner support from 50% of voters in each of at least 64 of 103 ridings (i.e. districts).
With MMP, voters still elect members from single-member districts. A portion of seats, however, is allocated to parties in order to make seat shares more proportional to polity-wide vote shares. This is especially beneficial when a strictly winner-take-all system otherwise would result in a "wrong winner" election - that is, where the party earning most votes ends up with fewer seats than its main rival.