The process that led to next month’s referendum began in June, 2005.
A Citizen’s Assembly composed of 103 randomly selected members from each of Ontario’s ridings, equally divided between sex and representative of Ontario’s diversity, was created to review the current electoral system and suggest any changes.
After months of public meetings, the assembly recommended Ontario switch to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) from the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system.
Under the FPTP system, voters elect a candidate from their riding. The party that wins the most seats forms the government. FPTP is in use in all other Canadian provincial and federal elections.
A voter would receive two ballots under the MMP system, one to elect a local candidate and one to elect a party. MMP would lower the number of ridings in Ontario to allow for an additional 39 seats.
These seats would be given to people on a prepared list from each political party. The extra list seats would be used to balance the legislature to reflect actual party support.
The referendum will need 60% of the popular vote to pass as well as getting a majority in 60% of the ridings across Ontario.
Previous referendums in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island have failed to get the required support to switch to a proportional representation system.