The Canadian government is currently looking at electoral reform. I would recommend three major changes.
- Introduce a ranked-vote, similar to the Australian system. This allows for greater expression of preference by a voter, without multiple rounds of voters going to the polls. This is also completely compatible with the existing system of local, ridings-based (constituencies or districts in other countries) representatives, which I think is much better than party-selected lists which are sometimes used for PR elections. We also have a very good idea of how this ranked-vote system would work, because Australia (which also has a system based on the Westminster style Parliament) has already done it, and for some time. The only difference in the mechanics of voting from the current Canadian system would be that the voter could rank his preferred candidates 1, 2, and so on up to whatever number he would like, instead of casting a vote for just one candidate (although he can do that as well). How does it work? After counting up the votes using the ‘1’ preferences, if no one has more than 50%, then the candidate with the lowest % is removed, and the votes for that candidate are reapportioned based on those voters’ ‘2’ preferences. The ballots continue to be reapportioned until someone has > 50%. For example, let’s say there is a riding with a Green candidate, NDP candidate, and Liberal candidate. The voter can then rank Green as 1 and NDP as 2. Let’s say it’s Liberal 45%, NDP 45%, Green 10% after counting ‘1’ preferences. The Green candidate is then eliminated, and in this case our voter’s vote goes to the candidate he ranked as ‘2’, which would be the NDP. Hence, his voting for the Green candidate isn’t taking away from the NDP candidate winning the riding.
- I would dramatically reduce the number of representatives in Parliament. I would aim for about 100 representatives, which would be one per about 350,000 people. This is simply because having much more than that reduces the impact and visibility of people in a Parliament to the point where (beyond ministers) it’s largely just a crowd, not individuals whose individual votes tend to matter. Compare the U.S. Senate (100) with the U.S. House (435), and how high-profile the members of those two bodies tend to be.
- I would introduce a law, similar again to Australia, where a person is fined a nominal amount if they don’t check-in to vote. Voting itself is not compulsory (voting is private, so one can leave the ballot blank), but showing up at the voting booth (or an equivalent by mail) is. (Australia’s last election saw about 90% of eligible voters voting (which for there is very low), while in Canada’s last election it was about 68.5% (which for there is very high).)
That’s about it!