Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Question: Strategic Voting

Posted by auroracitizen on April 21, 2011

People often debate about the value of strategic voting — whether to vote for the party or the candidate — if your favoured candidate is not projected to be the ruling party, should you still vote for them when they will potentially have little or no impact on the actions of the ruling party — or should you use your vote strategically to upset the part you dislike the most?

25 Responses to “Question: Strategic Voting”

  1. Kron Prinz Ferdinand said


    “Strategic voting is a lot like the “prevent” defence in football. And as the famous quote goes, “The only thing the ‘prevent’ defence ever did is prevent the team that used it from winning.” Strategic voting generally backfires pretty badly, causing even greater vote splits than might otherwise be expected.”

    I disagree, particularly when it comes to this riding. Last election, Brown and the CPC received 24,000 votes while the Liberals received 18,000 in what is normally considered a strong Conservative riding. I tried to convince both the Green party supporters and the NDP supporters that came to my door or to online forums to vote strategically because neither party has a chance in this riding -both realisitically and historically- and each time they presented the same argument you propose about strategic voting.

    Last election, the Greens and NDP got 4000 votes each, for a total of 8000 votes that -had they gone Liberal- would have taken this riding away from the Conservatives.

    The other thing is that I am what some would call an “independant”, but I know that I will never vote for the CPC as long as the intolerant reform element drives that party, which is why I really don’t care who takes this riding as long as it is taken from the Conservatives. If either the NDP or the greens ever had a real chance, my vote would go there.

    Personally, I would prefer proportional representation because that would make it difficult for Canada to fall under the control of an endemically right-wing party like the CPC, and force politicians to work together.

    • Greendude said


      Your statement, “I tried to convince both the Green party supporters and the NDP supporters that came to my door or to online forums to vote strategically because neither party has a chance in this riding -both realisitically and historically…” is exactly the voting attitude that keeps us mired in the same tired old patterns, and is precisely why strategic voting must stop.

      As I pointed out, if everybody who told me they would love to vote Green but won’t because they “don’t stand a chance” actually voted Green, this riding would BE green on May 3rd.

      To say there is no point of voting for a party because of their lack of past success is to ignore history. Reform was a “nowhere fringe party” until Deborah Grey got elected. Now they are running the show. In Ontario, it was unthinkable that the NDP would ever form a government… until they did.

      Strategic voting is simply a tool used by established parties to trick the populace into voting in ways that are in the party’s interests not the voter’s.

      The only way to create real change is to vote for something, period.

    • Greendude said

      Oh, and, of course, you are correct that Proportional Representation is definitely the way to go.

      Soon it will only be Canada and the U.S. that still use FPTP for choosing parliament. A system that stops working the second that the number of contestants exceeds 2.

  2. Kron Prinz Ferdinand said

    To me, the real impact on our electoral system will come on May 5th, rather than on the 2nd.

    On May 5th, Britain is changing is electoral system.

    Therefore, the common excuse we use about having a British system and its “unchangeability” would go flying out the door, as even the British realize that a first past the post system is not truly representative of the people.

    Likewise, 85% of Canadians now live in urban areas, while just under a third of our riding seats still represent largely rural areas (as drawn in the 1860’s). This is unjust as well, since it is no surprise that we see a perpetual pantheon of rural parliamentarians regularly crying about the “big cities”, and how they not only vilify those of us living in urban/suburban centres, but actually vote against urban initiatives.

    None of the parties are saying anything about that.

  3. Greendude said

    Strategic voting is a lot like the “prevent” defence in football. And as the famous quote goes, “The only thing the ‘prevent’ defence ever did is prevent the team that used it from winning.”

    Strategic voting generally backfires pretty badly, causing even greater vote splits than might otherwise be expected. It pains me to hear people say, “I normally would never vote for party X, but I really can’t stand party Y, so I will, just this once.’ It especially pains me to hear those same people say that every single election.

    Another thing that really bugs me is the number of people who say, ‘I really like your party’s platform, and I respect your candidate, but you don’t have a chance in this riding, so I’m not going to vote for you.’ You know what, if everybody who said that actually did vote for that candidate he or she would probably get elected.

    In the end the only strategic vote that makes any sense is to vote FOR the candidate and party you can support instead of against the candidate and party that you can’t.

    • Kelli said

      Well said!!!! BTW – I have read your blog and think you have some very “realistic” observations and thought process around various issues! Thanks for being a unique voice of reason!

  4. Vanessa said

    To be fair, I really don’t like strategic voting, especially since it almost never works and it deprives the Party of your choice of their per-vote funding, hurting their chances of mounting a strong campaign in the next election.

    If it helps, Newmarket-Aurora isn’t one of the ridings where ‘strategic voting’ is considered to be an effective strategy as our Conservative incumbent has a commanding lead… for some unfathomable reason. You can check out democracy project if you’d like another opinion. (

    So feel free to vote for the Candidate/Party that you like the best and then come on out to a Fair Vote meeting after the election and help us change the system so we don’t have to have this conversation anymore.


    PS If you really, really want to vote strategically you might want to consider where you can match up with someone in another riding to help the Party you like win. If it works.

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Vanessa–In the link you provided it says this was Belinda’s riding and now Lois Browns–It forgets to mention that, she Belinda got first elected as a Conservative MP before crossing the floor to the Liberals –Strategic voting–swapping votes to another riding ??– if you worried about the funds per vote,my 2 questions to you are—(1) what is your view on forced to vote(like Australia and some dictators regimes) _(2) your comment,for some,unfathomable reason Lois Brown has a commanding lead in the riding–do you not believe in the *right to chose*

    • Vanessa said

      Hi John.

      1) I’m not keen on people being forced to vote. I would rather there be a small incentive, such as $50 or $100 off one’s income tax, or, even better, that we have a system where everyone knows that there voice will be represented. I think if we switched to proportional representation we would immediately see higher turn-outs. I don’t believe Canadians are apathetic, I think we despair that our voice is not heard.

      2) I’m not sure what your question is here, so if my answer doesn’t address your concern please let me know. What I will say is that it is hard for me to understand why anyone would vote for a Party that is the first government in the history of the Westminster system to fall after being found in contempt. The lack of respect the Conservative government has shown for Canadian democracy, Parliament, and the Canadian people is something that I cannot believe conservative supporters can accept. Perhaps if they had another leader…

      Take care,

    • I Don't Get It said

      I read about the discontent with the ruling Conservatives here but I look at the polls and they are on track to a majority. Do you folks just like to complain now that Morris is gone?

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Vanessa-thanks for your reply RE your contempt issue and why would one vote for a Conservative in 2011 –well-Members elected to the House are given very special privileges so they can carry out their job in House.In other words a little lee way yes:too much lee way no:the reasoning too much privilege would get in the way of the House doing its job-you guessed it,it is the Canadian question of balance,yet again..OK-so given how much politicians are known to spin things and are allowed to do and say things in the House ,that they would never do outside it(have you ever witnessed a sitting),this contempt sanction should come up all the time right: *Wrong*-The use of contempt is actually very rare as MPs police their own House( some Commonwealth Country’s use the courts.This is the first time a majority of MPs voted that *they* believed the elected Government of the day was in contempt of Parliament.. I am not sure if this was a *free* vote or MPs had to follow party lines ? It is a rather large moment in Canadian history and it is our obligation as citizens and a voter to understand it:where is the line?at what point does spin become disrespect and contempt of Parliament.* Found guilty, contempt of parliament is like a foreign language to a lot of us( not understand the words) and the answer may be different for each of us..The point is we need to think about it and decide for ourselves,not be swayed by another whose main concern is looking for votes or a power shift in the House .That is the *beauty* of democracy.. When Canadians vote in a general Federal election,they do not vote for a Prime Minister nor do they vote for a government,instead they vote for a member of parliament to represent their riding..The original Westminster system not mention the Prime Minister or Party’s..That is why MPs are able to sit as independents and yes highly unlikely, but their could be 308 independents sitting in the house(as most join a party).that independent house sanction thou never used yet. sits there just like the contempt sanction had till March 2011..The GG is technically the head of state not the PM..The Governor General appoints the Prime Minister and then he chooses his cabinet from the 308 MPS elected( normally ones he can some what control and. from his party, yet they could if he chooses be a independent or from another party(political suicide thou LOL)…The cabinet can only remain the Government of Canada as long as they have support of majority of MPs..Maybe Mps should be allowed a free vote to honor the feelings of their elected riding on major issues.. Formal or informal the last coalition government in Canada was 1920.. Vanessa-have a great day, you do respond girl,that is a sign of good politics-I have already voted this time, but that’s not to say,my vote will go the same way next Election–JOHN :)apparently good looks goes a long way in politics these days and having a brain is a PLUS –stay on coarse

    • Paragraphs Please said

      “The GG is technically the head of state not the PM”

      Actually, the Queen is our Head of State.

    • Paragraphs Please said

      “Vanessa-have a great day, you do respond girl,that is a sign of good politics…apparently good looks goes a long way in politics these days and having a brain is a PLUS”

      Did you really just say that?! Huh, sexism, what a concept!

    • Vanessa said

      Dear I Don’t Get It,

      If the Conservatives have a majority it is unlikely to be with the majority of the popular vote, and, of course, we can’t forget about the record numbers of voters who are choosing not to vote. I have deep concerns about the state of our democracy and will continue to advocate for proportional representation.

      Dear John,

      Thank you for the words of encouragement – I’m planning on sticking around so I’ll be looking for that vote next time.

      And the Harper government contempt of Canadian democracy for me goes beyond the formal contempt charges to include the prorogation, the withholding of documents, the railroading of the media, and the fear-mongering that tries to convince us we are all heading for a dark and dreary future unless they get a majority.

      Yuck. It makes me sad when I think about people voting for them despite their actions – or even because of them. And then I realize that the vast majority of Canadians *aren’t* voting for them – in the last Parliament the Conservatives had less than 25% of the possible vote. And that makes me feel a bit better.


    • Anonymous said

      ” I have deep and will continue to advocate for proportional representation.”

      Proportional representation is the perrenial ralling cry for fringe parties that have no chance to win seats in the current system. Their usual position is to complain about everything that stands in their way (including logic and common sense) and expect to have things changed until it suits them and their narrow agenda.

      Witness your leader griping about the format of the leaders debates which (rightfully) excluded her and the rest of the fring parties (tinfoil hats and all).
      It’s kinda like the little kid on the sand lot complaing about the big kids not letting him play with them and running home to mommy and crying how “unfair” everybody else is.

      Grow up.

      Play the game how it is, or go find something else to do.

      And by the way having “… concerns about the state of our democracy…” does not include trying to circumvent it.

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      To-Paragraphs Please–re post April 28 3.07 and post April 28 3.04—Taken from the Westminster policy i read yesterday April 28-2011 the head of state in Canada is technically the GG ? also- How you got sexism in my kind words to Vanessa Long may be a little sexism on your part ? Its a known fact looks may attract yet brains help seal the deal in a lot of careers and promotions of both male and female in world of the day — (what a wrong wit adding a little flirt) 🙂

  5. Kron Prinz Ferdinand said

    I’ve always been left of centre…even moreson nowadays since the current CPC has a habit of attracting the intolerant and -as we now see- certain ethically-shady elements to their cause.

    I guess in my case, I’m not voting for who I want to vote for, but voting more against who I dislike. That is why I’m going Liberal. The Libs could run a sock puppet and I’d still vote for them as long as the CPC doesn’t win. Although I understand the ssincerity of both the NDP and Green candidates, and Lord knows I’d rather vote for either of those two parties, the reality is that a vote for the Greens or the NDO in this riding is a wasted vote that ensures a Conservative victory.

    That is why i’m voting strategically, as I understand how our system works, and i’m trying to work the system to ensure that the lesser evil gets in over the over evil.

  6. Daniel said

    I don’t agree with strategic voting. Sure, it’s heartbreaking to see a candidate win with merely, say, 35% of the vote, but that’s the way our system works.

    In the short-term, you might have to spend up to four years with a government you don’t like. But in the long-term, if people vote for their preferred candidate, long-shot or not, and winning candidates keep getting in with smaller and smaller proportions of the vote, it’ll send a signal – nation-wide – that our voting system is doing a poor job of communicating how the electorate feels, and we can start having a national debate on reforming it.

  7. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    I wonder if many who actually would prefer an NDP or Green or AAEV member of parliament will vote for Kyle Peterson rather than Lois Brown and if those voters who would prefer a Progressive Conservative will vote for Lois Brown rather than Dorian Baxter … and if those strategic votes will end up cancelling each other out.

    Richard Johnson, we miss your lawn sign counts. It’s as close to a poll as Aurora gets.

    • I wouldn’t count on lawn signs as an accurate measure.

      I hear that one candidate has been erecting signs on lawns without consent and placing a letter at the door that says “hope you don’t mind” or something to that fact.

      Looks like you don’t have to go to the polls to find contempt this year, it comes to you.

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      Nice teaser, Chris. Which candidate? Can you give us the facts or would you call it an opinion?

    • Thanks Elizabeth, this was brought to my attention on the night of the debate, it is not “my opinion” and as soon as I have some more info on this matter you can be sure that I will release it.

  8. Anonymous said

    I have never voted strategically before. I am considering it for this election. I want Harper stopped.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: