Monday, September 26, 2011

Voting 3 Ways

What do you think about our voting system in Canada? Do you think it is fair? Do you think it is democratic?

At Three Ontario Votes you  can try voting under three different systems to see how different voting systems work:
  • the first-past-the post system we use in Canada
  • the alternative vote system they use in Australia
  • the proportional representation system they use in the Netherlands
You can try the three ways of voting at Three Ontario Votes until election night on October 6.

You have to agree to participate in the research. You do not have to put in your riding. It is a bit awkward finding your riding in the drop down menu because they are not in alphabetical order. You can keep typing the first letter of your riding until it shows up. You can find your riding here if you know your address or postal code.

Then you cast ballots 3 times according to the rules of the first-past-the-post system from Canada, the alternative voting system from Australia, and proportional voting from the Netherlands.

At the end you can complete a short questionnaire about your political preferences. This will help the researchers understand more about how people would like to vote.

After the simulated ballots have been cast, the researchers will tally the vote counts and then determine the results of the vote in each system. The researchers would then examine how those results show the consequences of different electoral systems.

The three systems

You can read information on different electoral systems and how elections work in Canada, Australia and the Netherlands at Three Ontario Votes. Here is a chart about the three systems from a CBC story about the project:

Our system is called "first-past-the-post." It means whoever gets the most votes, wins. It means that if Candidate A gets 40 votes, Candidate B gets 35 votes and Candidate C 25 votes, then Candidate A wins even though only 40 out of 100 people like that candidate best. In Canada, parties often win elections with about 40% of the "popular" vote. This means that 40 out of 100 people voted for the winning party and 60 out of 100 people voted for other parties.

You can see that in the last Ontario election that, in Toronto, the Progressive Conservative Party got 23.53% of the vote, more that the NDP, but got no seats from this area. (This chart comes from the CBC Ontario Votes 2007 Ridings page. You can see more results from 2007 here.)

Here is a 6:31 minute video about some of the problems with first-past-the-post system:

Here is a 4:27 minute video about the alternative vote system:

Here is a 2:05 minute video about a proportional representation system from New Zealand:

We had a referendum about changing to this system of proportional representation voting in Ontario in 2007. People voted to keep the first-past-the-post system.

Here is a chart showing what would have happened in the 2003 Ontario election under the two systems:

FPTP = First Past The Post and MMP = Mixed Member Proportional)
Here is a 6:25 minute video about the Ontario referendum:

*Remember to visit the TDSB LBS Wiki for more election resources.

Monday, September 19, 2011

You and the Ontario Political Parties

CBC is running Vote Compass again.

"Vote Compass is an educational tool developed by political scientists. Answer a short series of questions to discover how you fit in the Ontario political landscape."

You click on one of 5 boxes to say how much agree or disagree with about 30 statements. You can also answer, "I don't know." You do not have to enter your Riding or Postal Code to get started.

In the next section, you answer some questions about how you feel about the four parties and the four party leaders.

For these two sections, it helps to know what the leaders look like and the party logos. You drag and drop pictures onto a continuum.

The last set of questions are demographic questions about you and where you live.

When you are done you will see a chart with all the parties and you. Here is mine. I am always way out in left field :)

You can open up Learn More to find out how your compare to each of the party platforms question-by-question or compare all the party platforms. I found this section quite interesting. If you click on the "party rationale" links, the section expands and you can see a section of the party platform about that subject.

 If you try the Vote Compass, leave a comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

A note: Some users will find that their Vote Compass results do not match their personal sense of alignment with the political parties. The results are not intended to predict which party a user feels that she or he is most closely aligned with; rather it merely specifies how the user is aligned with each of the political parties on the basis of the questions included in Vote Compass.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ontario Election 2011 Words

Welcome back! I hope that you all had a nice summer.

The big news in Ontario this fall is the provincial election. TV Ontario (TVO) has lots of good information about Ontario elections and voting here. (All links will open in a new window.)

Do you know who you are going to vote for? If you can't vote in THIS election, who would you vote for? Do you think it is important for people who live in Canada and cannot vote to think about this question?

Word clouds are a a way of analyzing a document. One way of making a word cloud is to paste the text into Wordle. Words that are used most often show up larger and brighter. It can give you an idea about the content of a document. Here is one I made from the lyrics of the song Summertime:

I couldn't get Wordle to work on my computer so I used TagCrowd. You can find other options here. Check out WordSift if you want to do word analysis as well. Very cool.

Here are the word clouds that Mark Brosens of TVO's The Agenda made from the election platforms of the 

Ontario Liberal Party,

Ontario New Democratic Party,

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and the

Ontario Green Party.

Look at the 4 word clouds. Did you learn anything new about what each party thinks is best for Ontario? Do these word clouds help you decide which party best represents what you think?

What issues are most important to the people in your class? Type them out into a word document. If 5 people think that education funding is an important issue, type education funding 5 times. Copy and paste your document into Wordle. Post a link to your word cloud into the comments so we can see what is important to you.

Then check out what others in Ontario are thinking here: The Citizen's Agenda - Click on a polygon to see a video of the question and issue raised by people who attended the Agenda Camps around Ontario.