A voting sign, October 19, 2015. (Photo by Alexandra Latremouille)

Getting Ready For The 2018 Municipal Election

The 2018 municipal election in Chatham-Kent will feature some slight changes.

In April, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced Bill 181 – otherwise known as the Municipal Elections Modernization Act. After receiving Royal Assent, changes were made to the Municipal Elections Act.

The biggest changes have to do with the nomination process.

“In previous elections, the nomination process opened on January 1 of the election year,” says Judy Smith, municipal clerk. “The act has been amended to significantly reduce that amount, and now the nominations open on May 1 and they close the last Friday in July.”

That amendment means the time allotted for nominations has been cut by a little more than half.

“Another change that happened is now when a candidate comes in to register they need 25 endorsement signatures from eligible electors, which wasn’t required before,” says Smith.

Along with these changes, Bill 181 introduced an option to vote differently.

The municipality currently uses the first-past-the-post election model, which is where the person with the most votes wins.

Bill 181 opened up the possibility of using a ranked ballot system. In that system, the single-member and multi-member ranked ballot system takes into account first, second, and third choices. (Videos on the system can be found below.)

After they were informed about the voting options, council members opted to continue with the first-past-the-post election model.

However, Smith will be monitoring the ranked ballot system and provide council with a report after the 2018 municipal elections.

“Council gave direction to monitor the ranked ballot elections in Ontario and report back to them,” says Smith. “At this time I’m not aware of any other Ontario municipality that is choosing to go with ranked ballots.”

Smith clarifies that the ranked ballot system will not be a required method for municipalities to adopt in the future, adding it’s just an option.

“We are still intending to do things very similar to the way they’ve been done before,” says Smith.

Video showing how the single-member ranked ballot voting would work (this is an option for the mayoral race):

Video showing how the multi-member ranked ballot voting would work (this is an option for the ward races):