Waterloo Region Votes

Your Information Hub for the 2018 Municipal Election

Cambridge Referendum on Ranked Ballots

What is even happening?

In addition to electing candidates, voters in Cambridge will be asked to vote on the following referendum question:

"Are you in favour of the City of Cambridge using a ranked ballot system for the 2022 municipal election?"

There is more information about the referendum and ranked ballots on the City of Cambridge Ranked Ballot page.

You can find general information about municipality adoption of ranked ballots here: Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Ranked Ballot FAQ page.

What is a ranked ballot?

Under the system we use now, you indicate one candidate for each position that is to be filled. For example, there is one mayor in Wilmot, so you would indicate your preferred nominee, and the nominee with the most votes win. Similarly, there are two available ward councillor seats for Wilmot Ward 4, so you would indicate up to two nominees there. Then the two nominees with the highest number of votes win the two seats.

In a ranked ballot, you may indicate more than one candidate even if there is only one position to be filled. You do this by ranking candidates, from your most preferred to the last one you would tolerate. You must give every candidate a different ranking, but you may rank as many or as few candidates as you wish. This works the same regardless of whether there is one or many positions to be filled.

There are then different mechanisms to award seats to nominees based upon these rankings. You can see a demonstration of how votes would be counted on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing site.

What happens if the referendum passes?

If the referendum passes then the City of Cambridge will transtion to ranked ballots for its mayoral and municipal ward positions, in time for the 2022 election.

The referendum only applies to races for the city of Cambridge – namely, the mayor and city councillors. All other positions (Regional Chair, Cambridge representatives on Regional Council, and school board trustees) will continue to be elected using the existing system.

What happens if the referendum does not pass?

If the referendum does not pass then the voting system in Cambridge remains the same. City council is allowed to use the results of the referendum to influence future policy but is not obligated to.

Under what conditions does the referendum pass?

In order for the referendum to pass, the voter turnout for the referendum must exceed 50%, and a majority of those casting ballots in the referendum must vote yes.

For context, in 2014 the voter turnout in Cambridge was 29.89 percent. Regardless of how many voters choose to support ranked ballots in the referendum, if the voter turnout is less than 50%, the referendum fails. City officials might take the results into account, but are not obligated to.

For more information, see the Questions on the Ballot section of the Ontario 2018 Voters’ Guide.

Who is campaigning for and against this referendum?

The only officially registered third-party is Yes! Cambridge. They have a Twitter account here: @yescambridge.

There is also an anonymous Twitter account @RankedBallotWR that seems to be promoting the referendum.

So far there appear to be no organized groups opposing the referendum. If you find some please contact us so we can update this FAQ.