With the provincial elections just around the corner, a group of Canadian researchers are exploring how the voting behaviour of Ontarians varies under different electoral systems.
The researchers have launched a website, ThreeOntarioVotes.ca, giving people the chance to cast their mock ballots using three of the most common voting methods, including the first-past-the-poll system currently used in Ontario and the rest of the country.
“[This is] an entertaining and educational way for people to learn about different electoral systems,” explains lead research André Blais, a professor of political science at the University of Montreal.
In addition to the existing electoral system, the website asks users to cast their ballots in the alternative vote system and the proportional representation system.
Under the first-past-the-post electoral system currently used in Canada, people vote for one of the candidates in their riding and the candidate with the most votes wins the seat.
In the alternative vote system, voters rank their candidates in order of preference when casting their ballots, rather than simply voting for one candidate.
In the proportional representation system, each party presents a list of candidates, and people vote for one of the parties.
While Blais does not expect a close match between the website results and the actual results of the Oct. 6 election, he says he believes the exercise will indeed help people learn more about “[whether] people will vote differently or not under different rules.”
The project also serves to inform people about the existence of the different voting systems.“Hopefully people will become more curious,” says Blais.
The initiative is part of a larger seven-year research project titled Making Electoral Democracy Work. The project examines 27 elections in five countries to study voting behaviour under different electoral systems.