Open Streets on Sunday!

See you there!

Nathan Cullen #KeepYourPromise Tour in Kitchener

160 people were crammed into a 100 seat room… Kitchener Public Library staff had to turn away as many as 100 others due to fire regulations!

Nathan Cullen talks about Electoral Reform …

… and his work on the ERRE Committee …

…and about the Prime Minster’s broken promise.

Jonathan Cassels spoke about his Electoral Reform Petition e-616

The crowd breaks breaks into small groups…

…brainstorming ideas for the way forward.

…postcards are always popular!

Nathan Cullen with Fairvote Waterloo’s Bob Jonkman, Sharon Sommerville, Don Fraser and Anita Nickerson

Visit our YouTube Channel

Did you know Fair Vote Waterloo has its own FairVoteWRC YouTube Channel?

Fair Vote Waterloo co-chair Sharon Sommerville talks about her feelings of “Real Betrayal” in this 5 minute soundbite from the Day of Action for Electoral Reform.

You can check out our curated playlists on:

Subscribe today!

More Pictures of the National Day of Action on Electoral Reform, 11 Feb 2017

Pictures from the National Day of Action on Electoral Reform held Saturday, 11 February 2017 at Carl Zehr Square at Kitchener City Hall.

Photos by Laurel L. Russwurm.

Sign: Make My Vote Count


People listening to speakers

Listening to speakers

Sign: Trudeau broke his promise


People rallying


Sam Nabi

Sam Nabi

Catherine Fife

Catherine Fife

Richard Walsh

Richard Walsh

Sign: Perform On Reform

Perform On Reform

Sign: Support Voter Reform | Make Every Vote Count | for Equity, Social Justice, Climate Justice


Two signs: Proportional Representation for a Better Democracy | "First Past The Post", Abuse of Dominance, Abuse of Rights, Bad Corporate Behaviour


David Weber

David Weber

Sign: How Can We Reach Consensus If We Don't Understand Their Alternatives


Supporter in the audience


Sign: Nobody believes Liberal excuses


Sam Nabi and Sharon Sommerville

Sam Nabi and Sharon Sommerville

Unhappy citizens in the audience

Unhappy Citizens

Anita Nickerson

Anita Nickerson

An audience member taking pictures

Taking pictures

Sign: 39 ≠ 100

39 ≠ 100

Sign: Justin, You Promised | Make Every Vote Count


Catherine Fife

Catherine Fife

Sign: Perform On Reform

Big sign

People in the audience


Sign: I want my vote to count

Little sign

Nadia Matos and a camera

CTV News

@Lulex (Louisette Lanteigne) holding a sign: Support Voter Reform | Make Every Vote Count | for Equity, Social Justice, Climate Justice


Bob Jonkman

Bob Jonkman

Sharon Sommerville

Sharon Sommerville



Tiger Hat

Tiger Hat

Sign: Democracy demands trust | R.I.P. Democracy | PR -- the peoples choice | Lies -- the Prime Ministers


Oz Cole-Arnal

Oz Cole-Arnal

Mo Markham

Mo Markham

Sign in the gallery: Make My Vote Count


Louisette Lanteigne

Louisette Lanteigne

Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs

Aden Seaman

Aden Seaman

Stacey Danckert

Stacey Danckert

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

Alim Nathoo

Alim Nathoo

Hat embroidered with the Liberal logo and "Real Betrayal"

Real Betrayal

Rallying dog

Rallying dog

Sign: Just-In | Nous Sommes Canadiens | Not Fringe | We Believed You | Believe In Us | And Just-ice

Nous Sommes Canadiens

Sign: The 1% is the "Fringe" Group PM Trudeau Should Worry About | #PR Now

The 1%

Photos are copyright ©2017 by the photographers, and used under a CC BY-SACreative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license.

Other pictures of the National Day of Action on Electoral Reform

See You Saturday

Saturday at 1:00pm we’ll be rallying for Electoral Reform in Carl Zehr Square at Kitchener City Hall.

Fair Vote Waterloo folk planning for Electoral Reform

Some popular hashtags:

Hope to #SeeYouSaturday

February 11th Day of Action For Electoral Reform

This is our spiffy poster for Saturday’s National Day of Action for ELECTORAL REFORM event.

If you can print a few copies to put up in your neighborhood that would be enormously helpful.

You can Download the full size colour PDF here (4 MBytes)

or Download the full size Black and White PDF here (3 MBytes)

or Download the full size Duotone PDF here (1 MByte)

or choose the jpg image size you want from Flickr

This poster is released with a CC0Creative Commons 0 Public Domain Dedication which allows anyone to legally print and use it for any purpose.

If you’re in or near Waterloo Region, Ontario, please print and distribute as many posters as possible on public property where allowed Be sure to get permission before posting on private property, in retail stores, on community bulletin boards etc.

Help Make This Event A Success!


Plan to attend if you can, and bring as many friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, your kid’s teachers … anyone you know!  This isn’t about politicians , it is really about us… we deserve to have our votes count.  It’s only fair!

Share the event on your social media.


Sign up on the Facebook Event Page

Share the event (click on the “share” button at the top of the right sidebar and choose where to share)


Retweet @FairVoteWaterloo’s event announcement

and other tweets about the event between now and Saturday.

For making your own tweets, the event hashtags include:

Bring Your Own Sign

Give your inner child free reign to create your very own sign!

If you’ve got kids, get them involved ~ make it a family art project.  Use Bristol Board or just ordinary cardboard.

Sign Tips

Keep it Simple : One Idea per sign (although you can have another on the back of a double sided sign)

Black and white, primary colours

Big easy to read letters

Not everyone feels they are artistic, so if you’re feeling inspired, if you make extras, no doubt there will be folks happy to carry them.

If you are looking for inspiration, you might get some ideas from the graphics in my PR For Canada or ERRE Flickr Albums.

Sign the Petition

Whether or not you can make it out on Saturday, you can sign the record breaking (85552 signatures as of writing) House of Commons e-616 ePetition here.  You don’t need to set up an account to sign, but you will need to confirm in email before it counts.  As I understand it this one was started by a Waterloo gent.

There is still time for the Canadian Government to adopt electoral reform in time for 2019.
That’s would still be the BEST possible outcome for Canadians.
And it just *might* happen if we make enough noise now.
(If not, we can get to work on making sure the next government does.)


Region of Waterloo Library series kicks off tonight in Elmira! #EngagedInER #ERRE

The Region of Waterloo Library and Fair Vote Waterloo Region  present Understanding Electoral Reform.   Our electoral system is changing ~ find out what our options are!   Join Bob Jonkman for a presentation of "Make Every Vote Count" followed by an audience question and answer session. Photo of Bob Jonkman, co-chair of Fair Vote Waterloo with the Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions at her Waterloo Region Community Dialogue. Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 - 6:00pm — 8:00pm  Elmira Branch, 65 Arthur Street South, Elmira ON N3B 2M6 Next Week: Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 - 6:30pm – 8:00pm  New Hamburg Branch, 145 Huron St., New Hamburg, ON N3A 1S3  Thursday, September 29th, 2016 - 6:30pm – 8:00pm  Ayr Branch, 137 Stanley St, Ayr, ON N0B 1E0

#ERRE social event in Waterloo

#ERRE Deck Party

Fairvote Waterloo Discussion Night morphed into an ERRE event

The Fair Vote potluck dinner discussion night was envisioned as a purely social event, but the reality is that an informal discussion on the electoral reform Parliamentary Consultation process currently underway arose.  The new attendees had lots of questions and information about various voting systems were discussed.  A lively discussion about the week’s ERRE Special Committee on Electoral Reform meetings in Ottawa that had been broadcast live by CPAC (on local cable station, Parlvu and still available to watch on CPAC) in which #ERRE #Q questions posed on Twitter posed by Waterloo Region residents including Jennifer Ross, Anita Nickerson, Eleanor Grant and myself were discussed.

Everyone is looking forward to the rumoured visit of the ERRE Committee to Waterloo Region in August.  As yet there are no details about the 5 Electoral Reform Town Halls that should be scheduled in the Waterloo Region Electoral Districts:

Everyone should contact their local MPs constituency office for details of these events.  Because the time line is so tight, it is important these be scheduled very soon.

“Ranked Ballots” in Australia

Mock Alternate Vote BallotSTV mock ballotAustralia uses “ranked ballot” systems at every level of government pretty much universally,.in much the same way we in Canada use the Single Member Plurality “First Past the Post” system.

The big difference between us is that Australia employs a mix of “ranked ballot” systems.

Distinguishing between Preferential Voting Systems

It is important to distinguish between Proportional and Winner-Take-All voting systems because their outcomes are so very different.  The Australian Senate’s Single Transferable Vote system can best be described as “quota-preferential,” since candidates need only reach the required quota to win a seat in the Legislature.   Likewise, Australia’s lower house uses the Alternative Vote, a system better described as “majority-preferential,” as candidates need to win a majority of votes to win the seat.

Australian Senate

The Australian Senate bears little resemblance to our own.  Their Senators are not appointed, but instead elected using the quota-preferential Single Transferable Vote form of Proportional Representation. Each territory elects 12 Senators with the STV (Single Transferable Vote) form of Proportional Representation. In this way, the voters in each territory actually choose the representation they want, and elect them in a manner which reflects the voters’ preference.

Until recently voters were obliged to rank every candidate, a fairly rigorous task with 12 seats to fill.  Failure to do so resulted in a spoiled ballot.  To make it easier for voters, the ballot was divided into 2 parts, and voters could instead choose to vote “above the line” a much less onerous task where they simply choose a party instead.  The disparity in difficulty resulted in only about 5% of voters ranking (and voting for) specific candidates, a problem which has been challenged and finally remedied in time for the 2016 election.

But even with such party games since its adoption in 1949, Proportional Representation has resulted in an Australian Senate that actually represents the constituents in their regions, unlike Canada’s Senate, where time and again we’ve seen Prime Ministers stack our Senate and/or appoint party hacks from Toronto to “represent” the citizens in PEI.  Canada’s Senate was created to guarantee proper regional representation, but fails to actually provide it in its  current incarnation.

The Proportional Representation Society of Australia explains the new way of voting for the Australian Senate in this video:

Australian House of Representatives

On the other hand, Australia’s House of Representatives does bear a fair bit of resemblance to our own House of Commons because it uses the majority-preferential Alternative Vote winner-take-all system introduced in 1918.  This winner-take-all system was introduced in an attempt to prevent the two right wing parties from splitting the vote and allowing the upstart Labor Party to win.  Although replacing one winner-take-all system (First Past The Post) with another (Alternative Vote) didn’t actually stop the third party from gaining power, Australia has kept this winner-take-all system longer than any other country.

The most important lesson we’ve learned from Australia is winner-take-all systems produce very similar results whether or not ballots are ranked.  For real change you need Proportional Representation.

Election explainer: how are lower house votes counted? And what is ‘the swing’?

by Nick Economou, Monash University

Australia’s House of Representatives. It was first used at a federal election in 1919 to allow for the anti-Labor votes in rural areas to be split between the Nationalists and the newly emerged Country Party. The first-past-the-post vote system was in use prior to this.

Preferential voting requires electors in single-member electoral districts (”seats”) to numerically order candidates starting with the most preferred (who would get a “1”, or primary vote) through to the least preferred.

At federal elections, voters must cast a preference for all candidates. Failure to do so, or failure to give an ordinal list of preferences, renders the ballot informal. This means it is not counted towards any candidate and is set aside.

How are the votes counted?

When the count for the seat is undertaken, electoral officials begin by counting the primary vote won by each candidate. The successful candidate needs to win 50% plus one vote of the total formal votes cast in the seat. For example, in a seat where 90,000 votes are cast, the winner needs 45,001 votes.

If no candidate has achieved the threshold, the candidate with the lowest primary vote comes out of the count. The eliminated candidate’s ballots are inspected and allocated to the next preferred candidate at full value.

A tally is taken again. If no-one has reached the benchmark, the elimination process continues. The candidate with the smallest total of votes is eliminated; the ballots are inspected and allocated to the next preferred candidate who is still in the count. At all times, the preferences that are allocated retain a full value.

This process continues until a candidate achieves an absolute majority after the allocation of preferences.

The Australian Electoral Commission has done a full allocation of preferences for all seats since 1984. This means election results are expressed in two ways:

  • how many primary votes the candidates and their political parties won; and
  • the result of the election as a contest between the party that wins a majority of lower house seats and the next best.

This outcome, in turn, will be determined by the result in each seat after the distribution of the preferences cast by those voting for candidates other than those representing the two major parties. This is the so-called “two-party vote”, and is usually expressed as a result comparing the Liberal-National Coalition and Labor.

What is ‘the swing’?

There are 150 lower house seats. The Liberal or National parties comfortably win about one-third of these. Similarly, Labor wins another one-third of these with margins that range from five to 20 or more percentage points.

The final third of the seats, however, have very close margins. These are the seats that the parties fight over, meaning whichever party wins these seats will probably have the lower house majority required to form government.

In each election some voters will change the choice they made in the previous election. They may vote either for the other major party or for a minor party or an independent. The shift in voter alignments between elections is known as “the swing”.

Analysts keep an eye on two types of swing. The first is the primary vote swing. This swing indicates how the voters have responded to the major party in government, and whether the other major party is the beneficiary of shifting alignments. If the other major party is not picking up “swinging” voters, then the shift in support will be going to the minor parties and/or independents.

The “two-party” swing is arguably the more important swing to be observed. This will determine which party wins the close seats. This swing shows the shift of support from the party holding the seat to the candidate who is challenging for the seat after the preferences from voters for all the other unsuccessful candidates in the contest have been allocated.

The ‘how-to-vote’ card

The alternative vote system is quite complicated compared with first-past-the-post voting, for example.

To assist voters in identifying their candidates, political parties publish how-to-vote cards. These leaflets are offered to voters as they arrive at the polling booth and advise those wishing to vote for that particular party on how they should rank their preferences for all the other candidates.

This practice is known in Australian politics as “directing preferences”. However, these leaflets are simply advisory; voters can choose to accept or reject them.

Not everyone requires them, but to a voter who does not know which electorate they are in, does not know the candidates and does not understand how the electoral system works – but wants to cast a valid vote nonetheless – the how-to-vote card is indispensable.

Given these leaflets also advise on the Senate, their usefulness to the uncertain voter is even greater. Scope exists for the parties to try to influence results through the advice they give on preferences.

For major parties, the main purpose of the how-to-vote card is to ensure voters fulfil the requirement of casting a preference for all candidates so that their vote is formal. The preference rankings made by electors voting for minor party candidates, however, may decide which major party candidate will win the seat.

Scope exists for the parties to horse-trade on preferences, provided they are not bound by ideology (it is inconceivable, say, that Family First would direct preferences to the Greens) or rules (the Democrats had a rule never to direct preferences to the major parties).

If wheeling and dealing can be done, it will be undertaken by party secretaries and presidents. This gives the process an opaque, backroom feel to it. It can also seem politically irrational when apparently sworn enemies are shown to have entered into what the party executives will hope is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Such deals can be the difference between winning and losing seats – and winning and losing executive power.

The Conversationcc by-ndElection explainer: how are lower house votes counted? And what is ‘the swing’?” by Nick Economou, Senior Lecturer, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) license.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

The “Ranked Ballots” in Australia introduction by Laurel L. Russwurm is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.CC-BY

Visit Fair Vote Waterloo at Open Streets

Fair Vote at Open StreetsSunday June 12th
Open Streets, Uptown Waterloo