6 Million Wasted Votes

On average half the votes cast in every federal election do not elect an MP.


Unless you vote for the most popular party in your riding, your voice will not be represented in Parliament. You and millions more are often denied political representation – and an accountable Parliament – because of Canada’s voting system.  No wonder most major democracies scrapped first-past-the-post voting between 50 and 100 years ago and moved to proportional representation.

What is it and how did it get started?

Pair vote is about giving back people’s power at the ballot box. We are striving to provide a positive alternative for frustrated voters.

Vote swapping is an entirely legal mechanism whereby voters from different ridings agree to voluntarily “trade” votes in order to help get their preferred party represented in Parliament. It empowers voters by allowing them to ensure that a ballot is cast FOR their preferred party, which is a welcome alternative to strategic voting or voting against the party you fear most.

It matches up people in different ridings who feel that their vote will not count. For example, Green voters across the country can swap their votes with Liberal and NDP supporters in Elizabeth May’s riding to boost her chances of winning significantly. Last election, Liberal MP Keith Martin won his riding where 50% of the victory margin could have come from swapped votes.

This movement started in Canada as a means to bring attention to the need for voting reform.  It was started after seeing the same efforts made in the US election.

How has this movement evolved since its conception three years ago?

We had an incredible response in the last election – two vote swapping groups had a combined 6000 registered pair voters and we are expecting to at least double that number this year. We are very excited to see what kind of impact we can have this election.

In our second time around we are working with many different vote-swapping groups to coordinate our efforts. We expect to have at least one riding won outright from swapped votes. The use of social media has been our best tool, we have a group on Facebook, our site www.votepair.ca and you can follow us @pairvote on Twitter

Does pair voting even work?

It did work in the last election – two ridings were reported to have had their outcomes impacted by vote-swapping.  The success of pair voting for this election is totally reliant on people joining us.  The more people we have the more powerful we are. 15,000 swapped votes can change which party becomes the next government. There are expected to be at least 40 swing ridings where we can change the outcome of the election.  Everyone is a candidate for pair voting, but of course those living in these swing ridings are particularly important.  You can check and see if you are in a swing riding on votepair.ca

In your mind, what would be the appropriate reform to the electoral system in Canada?

Canada is one of the only Western countries still using ‘First past the post’ – most Western countries moved to some form of proportional representation over  50 years ago. It isn’t fair that in the 2008 election the Bloc Quebecois got 49 seats with 9.6%, the NDP got 37 seats with 18%, and the Green Party had 7% and no seats.
Pair Votes’ real goal is to give the power back to the voter in the same way that proportional representation would.

  • the guiding principle is voter equality which leads to proportional representation (PR)
  • a party getting 40% of the votes will get 40% of the seats – not 50% or 60% of the seats and complete
    control of the Parliamentary agenda
  • PR can make every vote count no matter who you vote for or what riding you live in
  • fair voting means no more skewed election results, no more phony majority governments and fair representation of all political views in all regions
  • governments are more representative and more accountable to all Canadians
  • every citizen matters because every vote helps shape Parliament
  • 81 nations, including most major Western democracies, use PR systems

Do you find any ethical problems when it comes to trading your vote with a stranger?  Is it legal?

Pair voting empowers voters by allowing them to ensure that a ballot is cast for  their preferred party, which is a welcome alternative to strategic voting or voting against the party you fear most. Millions of Canadians cast votes but cannot elect a MP to represent their views.  Pair voters people have the opportunity to have their say, and they are out voting , versus the 40% of Canadians who weren’t at the ballot box in 2008.  Voter apathy is at least partially related to people feeling that their votes don’t count.  If people felt they had some margin of control they would be more engaged with the process.

For media inquiries, use:

Email: email@votepair.ca

Gerry Kirk
Phone: 906 379 0798
Skype: gerry.kirk

Katya Duhamel
Phone: 613 240 2177