09/22/2015 12:35 EDT | Updated 09/22/2016 05:12 EDT

Second-Past-the-Post and Other Innovative Ways to Vote

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A bingo machine front on contains bingo balls moving excitingly around

Both Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau are committed to ending our outmoded first-past-the-post (FPP) voting system. However, it's still unclear what they'd replace it with. Different options are on the table including a single transferable vote (STV) approach, a mixed member proportional (MMP) system, or even a full proportional scheme.

The problem as I see it is that Canadians haven't been offered a good substitute for our outmoded FPP system. We should have a whole smorgasbord of truly Canadian electoral options including the following new choices:

SPP or Second-Past-The-Post

Yet to be tried in any jurisdiction, SPP promises a whole new approach not only to voting but also to campaigning. With second-past-the-post, the second place finisher wins. This ensures that candidates will try, but not too hard. You might get one phone call, flyer or front door visit per candidate. But probably no more than that since no one wants to risk becoming too popular. SPP will result in more reserved campaigning, fewer debates and a new quintessentially Canadian rallying cry: "Let the second best person win."


It's another untested voting system, but one that definitely shows promise for increasing voter turnout. LottoLection is a variation of first-past-the-post. You vote for your preferred candidate, but your ballot is numbered and thereby qualifies for an election night grand prize draw. Each ballot will also have a scratch 'n win panel which your polling captain will reveal to determine if your franchise is worth one, two, or maybe even three votes. Some lucky citizens might even win a free second ballot.

Weighted Voting

Have you ever wished you could vote for more than one candidate? Well, with weighted voting, you can. You simply rank your choices from one to however many you want to vote for. Then sit back and trust in the magic of mathematics. Each first place vote is worth five weighted votes, each second place choice is worth four votes and so on. If there are more than five candidates that means that a sixth place vote gets zero, a seventh choice gets minus one, etc. Tally up the weighted votes and the candidate with a total greater than X!(Y- 6)/Z+2 is the winner. Unless, of course, the result is a prime number, which then necessitates a runoff election between the first and fourth place finishers. What could be simpler?

Wheel of Misfortune

For those who don't think it really matters who gets elected, here's a voting method that let's them practice what they preach. The wheel of misfortune system provides each voting booth with a roulette-style wheel with a voting slot for each candidate. A voter is given a white "voting ball." He then spins the "election wheel," throws on his ball and hopes for the best. The party with the most randomly selected candidates forms the next government.

Canada's Next Top Pol

Modeled on some of Canada's favourite reality TV shows, this voting method may breathe life back into our moribund democracy. Voters don't even have to leave the comfort of their own homes. Instead candidates compete on a weekly TV broadcast in categories like singing, dancing and prevaricating. Registered viewers vote by phone and eliminate candidates one by one over the course of the election "season" until a winner is declared. Look for the broken promises competition to separate the real pols from the also-rans.


What To Do Now You've Registered To Vote (gallery)