Ontario Passes Legislation to Allow Ranked Ballot Option for Municipal Elections

Province Modernizes Municipal Elections

Tuesday Ontario passed legislation to give municipalities the option of using ranked ballots in future municipal elections, beginning in 2018.

The Municipal Elections Modernization Act, 2016 reforms the Municipal Elections Act. It will increase transparency and accountability by:

  • Making campaign finance rules clearer and easier to follow for voters, candidates and contributors
  • Banning corporate and union contributions to candidates
  • Creating a framework to regulate third-party advertising, including contribution and spending limits, and to define third-party advertising as advertisements supporting or opposing a candidate
  • Shortening the length of campaigns by opening nominations for candidates on May 1 instead of January 1
  • Requiring the municipal clerk to prepare a plan regarding the identification, removal and prevention of barriers that could affect electors and candidates with disabilities
  • Making it easier to add or change certain information on the voters’ list.

Enhancing transparency and accountability and allowing more choice in municipal elections is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority – growing the economy and creating jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is also making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


Quick Facts

  • No Canadian jurisdiction currently uses ranked ballots.
  • A public review of the Municipal Elections Act took place between May 2015 and July 2015. The Municipal Elections Modernization Act, 2016 is based on input from across Ontario, including more than 3,400 submissions from the public, municipal councils and staff.
  • There are 444 municipalities in Ontario.

Background Information

Additional Resources


Ted McMeekinTed McMeekin: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

“We listened to the calls from voters to ensure that rules for municipal elections reflect the real and evolving needs of our communities. The Municipal Elections Modernization Act clarifies the rules and will allow municipalities to consider the option of using ranked ballots.”

Robert Eisenberg: Co-Founder & President Campaign Fairness

“Campaign Fairness is pleased to see Ontario pass legislation that bans corporate and union donations to candidates of a municipal election. We are entering a new era in Ontario that will make politics accessible and accountable, level the playing field for all candidates, and restore respect for the political system.”

Katherine Skene: Ranked Ballot Initiative Toronto

“The passing of Bill 181 is an historic moment. For the first time in Ontario’s history, people have access to an alternative to first past the post. RaBIT, Unlock Democracy and other ranked ballot groups are hopeful to see a 2018 municipal election that will achieve majority support for the winner, discourage negative campaigning and reduce strategic voting.”

Source – Government of Ontario press release