Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen
This is not the first time it's been noted that Ottawa's mayoral race is a little lacklustre, with just a few candidates in the running and only one who is even remotely able to challenge incumbent Mayor Jim Watson. But even second-place, fiscally conservative Mike Maguire is a longshot for the top job at this point.
One of the reasons for the absence of challengers could be that Watson is doing a good enough job. Or perhaps running against Watson's storied political machine is too daunting for some.
Either way, we're moving into an election with few nuanced choices for mayor. Right now the election can be boiled down to LRT/no LRT, and biweekly garbage pickup/weekly garbage pickup.
But a local activist group believes we can improve both the range of electoral choices as well as democratic participation by changing the way we vote.
Ottawa123 is advocating for our next city council to implement the ranked-choice ballot in time for the 2018 election, and is trying to make changing our current first-past-the-post system an election issue this time around.
The ranked-choice ballot is a fairly simple concept. Voters indicate their first, second and third choices for mayor (or other elected official). Whoever gets the least number of votes is eliminated. If your candidate is dropped off the list, then your vote goes to your second choice. This process continues until someone has more than 50 per cent of the vote. The counting is usually done automatically by computers — there aren't separate rounds of voting. (For a demonstration, go to Ottawa123.ca.)