One Half See Need For Electoral Reform

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One Half See Need For Electoral Reform  

First-Past-The-Post preferred in direct comparison, Ranked Ballot is leading second choice

TORONTO, October 9th – In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1143 Canadian voters, close to one half agree Canada needs to change its electoral system (48%), and just more than one third disagree with this (35%). Incidence of agreement is highest among the youngest (53%), males (52%), those in mid income groups ($60K to $80K - 57%), in BC (55), but not in Atlantic Canada (39%), among New Democrats (72%), Bloquistes (60%) and Greens (58%) and by the best educated (post grad - 53%).

FPTP wins in direct comparison, Ranked Ballot leads second choices

Voters are asked which of three electoral or voting systems they prefer, and are given a short explanation of each. In these circumstances, First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) is preferred over the other two systems mentioned by more than 4-in-10 (“…that is, the current system in Canada, where the candidate who gets the most votes in each riding wins, even if they don’t get 50% of the vote” - 42%), while Proportional Representation (PR) is preferred by about one third (“…that is, where parties are awarded seats based on their proportion of the total vote. In this system, your MP may not be the person who wins the most votes in your riding” - 35%), and Ranked Ballot is preferred by just a quarter (“…that is, where voters pick a first, second and other choices, and if no candidate gets 50% of the first choices, then the second and other choices are added together until someone gets 50% of the choices. In this system your MP may not be the person who gets the greatest number of first choices” - 23%).

When voters are asked which would be their second choice of electoral system, most voters select Ranked Ballot (40%), while being followed closely by PR (35%) and FPTP (25%).

In the case of first choices, Conservatives strongly prefer FPTP (63%), Liberals are equally likely to prefer either FPTP (39%) or PR (37%) and New Democrats strongly prefer PR (55%).

In terms of second choice picks, Conservatives are equally likely to choose PR or Ranked Ballot (41% each), Liberals are equally likely to choose Ranked Ballot (37%) or PR (36%), and New Democrats strongly pick Ranked Ballot (49%).

Electoral reform not seen to be as important an issue as others

Voters are asked to rate how important various issues are to them, on a nine point scale ranging from “extremely important” to “not at all important”. The most important issue is seen to be, not surprisingly, the economy (average score 8.0 out of 9.0), followed by climate change (6.8), relations with First Nations (6.4) and then electoral reform (5.5 out of 9.0). After electoral reform come Syrian refugees (5,3) and finally, marijuana legalization (5.0 out of 9.0). Electoral reform is seen to be especially important by the youngest (5.9), the least wealthy (6.1), in Quebec (6.0), among New Democrats (6.6), Bloquistes (6.1) and Greens (6.0).

One half are aware of Special Committee on Electoral Reform

One half of voters are aware the government has struck a committee to study electoral reform (49%) and one half are unaware of this (51%). Awareness is highest among the oldest (64%), males (57%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 64%), in BC (59%), among New Democrats (56%) and among the best educated (post grad - 64%).

Just one half can describe FPTP, two thirds PR

When asked if they could describe each of the three electoral systems to a friend (before they were prompted with the brief descriptions noted above), two thirds claim to be able to describe PR (63%), one half claim to be able to describe FP (54%) and about 4-in-10 think they can describe Ranked Ballot (41%).

Relatively few can identify Canada’s electoral system

Just 4-in-10 voters correctly select FPTP as Canada’s current electoral system (40%), fewer than a quarter think we vote by PR (22%), an identical proportion simply don’t know (22%), and half this proportion think we use Ranked Ballot (12%). In fact, it is only among the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 57%), those in BC (53%), among New Democrats (56%) and the best educated (post grad - 63%) that a majority is aware by which electoral system Canadians vote.

“We think of ourselves as a civically-minded country, with a passion for good government, yet only a minority of Canadians understand the system under which we elect our representatives. Nonetheless, this system (First-Past-The-Post) seems to satisfy most when the three main competitors are explained to them, followed by Ranked Ballot as the most popular second choice. It is chiefly among New Democrats (and other smaller parties) and the young that Proportional Representation is preferred” said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.