Electoral Reform

Citizens’ Jury Demo Project

About Workshop

Synapcity invites you to join a special city-building initiative piloting a new way of engagement for the City of Ottawa. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about election systems and meet diverse people from across your city.

Given that the Citizens’ Jury model takes a lot of time and resources, we’re experimenting with a demo project inspired by the design. These models are seeing lots of success around the world, by giving informed citizens the opportunity to contribute meaningfully on issues that matter to them. Civic participation is a founding principle for Synapcity, which is why we’re bringing this to the community.

What exactly is a Citizens’ Jury? Selected members of a community make informed recommendations to decision-makers on a issue. There’s lots of different Citizens’ Jury models, so we’re creating our own over one afternoon, with advice from an advisory committee.

What’s Electoral Reform? In 2016, the province of Ontario allowed municipalities to decide whether they would change the current first-past-the-post electoral system in favour of ranked ballots. With 2018 being an election year, we’re making this hot topic local by exploring both systems with Ottawa’s CityMakers.

What are the current systems?

  • First Past the Post: Voters choose one candidate. The winner is the candidate with the greatest number of votes.
  • Ranked Ballot: when voters mark their first, second and third choice candidates. If no candidate wins a majority, the person with the least first-place votes is eliminated, and the second-place choices of those who voted for that candidate are then voted, and so on until a candidate gets 50% plus one of the votes.

Workshop Details

What can I expect as a participant?

  • A simple handbook before the event explaining the deliberative process & the electoral systems
  • Mock elections to test each system live during the event
  • Focused, in-person discussion with engaged community members

Guiding Questions:

  • Why would someone support First Past the Post, and another support Ranked Ballot electoral systems? What are the tradeoffs built into each system?
  • Given those tradeoffs, what is the preferred electoral system for the City of Ottawa?

We are looking to evaluate two dimensions of this project: the outcome of the deliberative process and Synapcity’s experience running the demo project. Councillors are welcome to join us on October 28, and we will later release a written report. This process gets us curious together and explores a new way of having a public conversation with impact. This does not replace other decision-making mechanisms.

Join Us

Applications are open here until Tuesday October 16th. 

If you want to participate but something is preventing you from applying, e.g. accessibility concerns, financial need, caregiving, transportation challenges, please get in touch with us so we can explore a solution that would allow you to join us.

Snacks and drinks provided, PLUS a Synacity prize pack with local goodies!

If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 613 288 5810.

Time: 12:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Date: Sunday, October 28
Location: L’ Atelier, Saint Paul University