Voices & Choices

Plurality voting failed Canadians. Again.

Plurality voting failed Canadians. Again.

Once again, Canada’s system of plurality voting in single-member districts has done a poor job of serving the public. Though some ballots remain to be counted, a few trends are clear.

First, the system creates unfair pressure on voters to ‘vote strategically’ or be accused of ‘splitting the vote.’ Both the Liberal and Conservative leaders spent time in the final days of the campaign warning Canadians against ‘vote splitting,’ and news outlets covered the topic substantially. All of the debate about strategic voting took time away from focusing on the issues affecting Canadians’ lives.

Second, single-member districts have a tendency to distort representation. How many votes a party or group of candidates receives can differ substantially from the share of the seats that they win. For instance, this was the second Canadian election in a row where Conservative Party candidates received the most votes but did not win the most seats because their voters were not efficiently distributed across districts. Similar gaps between votes and representation affected other parties as well. 

These failures show why plurality voting should be replaced by a proportional election system that will be fairer to voters and candidates alike. FairVote Canada is leading the movement to reform elections there.

Here in the United States, we are working to pass the Fair Representation Act, which will replace unrepresentative, single-member Congressional districts with multi-winner ranked choice voting districts where all voters can have a voice. The CGP Grey video below shows how that voting system works and why it improves representation.

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