Time to rethink our voting rules

Time to rethink our voting rules Why do Whitehorse elections limit the number of candidates each of us can vote for to six? Where in the world did it come to be a principle that people shouldn't vote for more candidates than there are seats to fill? Vot

Why do Whitehorse elections limit the number of candidates each of us can vote for to six? Where in the world did it come to be a principle that people shouldn’t vote for more candidates than there are seats to fill?

Voters are already permitted to vote for less than six candidates, so why not more? There is absolutely no justification for this rule.

This completely arbitrary upper limit on the number of votes has a perverse outcome. The more candidates you can convince to run in the municipal elections to represent your interests, the less likely your interests will be represented.

Imagine a city that is divided between people representing two sides of a very important issue, important enough that everyone is deciding who to vote for based on that issue. Call one side the Ups and the other the Downs.

There are 2,000 voters aligned with the Ups and 4,000 voters aligned with the Downs. In a fair election, we would expect the Downs to be in the majority, and the Ups to be in the minority on city council, reflecting the divisions in the electorate.

Now imagine that the Ups are a listless, politically disengaged faction that cannot muster more than six candidates to represent their interests. The Downs are fired up about the elections, and when campaign season starts, there are 18 Down candidates clamouring to be on the city council.

If every Up voter votes for all six Up candidates and no one else, then every Up candidate will get 2,000 votes. If every Down voter votes for six Down candidates, however, it is unlikely that a single Down candidate will get more votes than any Up candidate.

The reason for this is that there are a maximum of 24,000 votes that the Down voters must divide between 18 candidates, making an average of 1,333 votes per Down candidate. If the Down candidates are of more or less even attractiveness, then the Up faction will likely end up with a 6-0 majority despite being outnumbered 2-1 in the electorate.

Not only is this obviously undemocratic, but basically with this system the more candidates a faction presents, the less likely that faction will be represented on council. Talk about backwards incentives!

Candidates should be able to receive a vote from every single voter who wants them on city council. The six candidates that the most voters want on city council will be the candidates who sit on city council. Duh.

The fact that the Municipal Act states that “an elector is entitled to vote for as many candidates for any offices that there are members to be elected to that office, but only once for each candidate,” is not a justification for this bizarre system, but rather evidence of thoughtlessness on the part of legislators.

Sebastien Markley


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Boulevard of Hope was launched by the Yukon T1D Support Network and will be lit up throughout January. It is aimed at raising awareness about Yukoners living with Type 1 diabetes. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Boulevard of Hope sheds light on Type 1 diabetes

Organizers hope to make it an annual event

City of Whitehorse city council meeting in Whitehorse on Oct. 5, 2020. An updated council procedures bylaw was proposed at Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 18 meeting that would see a few changes to council meetings and how council handles certain matters like civil emergencies. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse procedures bylaw comes forward

New measures proposed for how council could deal with emergencies

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Developer asks for zoning change

Would reduce the number of required parking spaces

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

Most Read