Scientists ask Ontarians to cast three votes

A team of political scientists from four Canadian universities have launched an innovative project that allows Ontario voters to cast ballots using three different electoral systems for the upcoming provincial election.

Three Ontario Votes voters are invited to cast ballots for the upcoming election using the current first-past-the-post system, the alternative vote and proportional representation. The website provides information on how the different systems work with examples from countries using each of them.

Participants are then asked to cast their votes under each of the three methods. The researchers hope this will encourage Ontarians to learn more about the different systems and to think about how their voting choice differs under each.

The website is part of the Making Electoral Democracy Work project that is examining elections and voters in five western democracies and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The participating universities are The University of Western Ontario, Carleton University, Université de Montréal and McGill University. All Ontario voters are welcome to visit the website and cast their ballots.

Laura Stephenson, an associate professor and undergraduate chair at Western’s Department of Political Science, says, “Electoral reform is often talked about as a way of increasing the fairness of an election. To date we have not been able to understand exactly how election outcomes in Ontario might change if voters were casting their ballots under different rules.

“This project will provide us with just that information – how people, voting in the same election for the same parties and candidates, would cast their ballots if the electoral rules were different.”