This is why Doug Ford doesn't need the popular vote to win a majority government

Jun 7 2018, 9:38 pm

There arguably hasn’t been a provincial election in Ontario as consequential as today’s vote for at least a generation.

First of all, every vote really does matter. Members of the Provincial Parliament (MPP), the locally elected representative of each riding, could be determined by the slimmest of margins. It has happened before.

In the last provincial election in 2015, Gila Martow with the Progressive Conservatives won the Thornhill riding after a recount found that she was the winner by 85 ballots.

There were even slimmer victories in the 2011 federal election in Ontario when Conservative Party candidate Jay Aspin won Nipissing-Timiskaming by only 14 votes.

But of course, all eyes are usually on the overall outcome, as voters tend to cast their MPP ballots along party lines – the party they wish to form the government. All the while, a party does not necessarily need to win the popular vote to achieve this.

This is because Canadian federal and provincial elections run on the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system where a winning candidate only needs to earn more votes than any other candidate on the ballot.

An absolute majority of over 50% is not necessary, and this is how most candidates and parties win in elections. This is the case for both local riding elections and the balance of power at Queen’s Park.

Based on the latest Ipsos Reid poll, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party are slated to win a majority government based on winning 39% of the popular vote amongst decided voters. The Tories are trailed by Andrew Horwath’s New Democratic Party (36%) and Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal Party (19%), who conceded the race last week.

Another factor centres around varying voting populations in each riding, with rural ridings historically containing less population than urban ridings. This means rural ridings are strategically more important to the parties as each vote counts for more, with each voter having a greater influence on the outcome of the election in their rural riding compared to voters who live in a riding with a larger population.

However, for today’s election, it has been a completely new ballgame for the parties, pollsters, and other number crunchers as 17 more ridings have been added compared to the last election in 2014, increasing the total number of provincial ridings to 124. Furthermore, 95% of the ridings have experienced boundary changes ahead of the election.

Polls across the province close tonight at 9 pm.

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