Just over half of Torontonians polled by Forum Research, a Toronto-based public opinion research company, do not support allowing permanent residents to vote in municipal elections. Toronto City Council voted in June to ask the province to give permanent residents the right to vote and participate in city elections. If approved by the province, the new system could be in effect for the 2018 election and would allow an estimated 250,000 non-citizens to vote in the municipal election. Toronto isn’t the first city to look at offering the vote to permanent residents. Some cities in about 40 countries, including Dublin and Oslo, currently allow non-citizens to cast their ballot municipally.
There are sometimes restrictions: In Oslo, for instance, newcomers must have lived in Norway for three years to be allowed to vote. In New Zealand, everyone is allowed to vote after one year of residency.
But Forum Research’s poll of 3,951 Torontonians found that 53 per cent — or 2,094 people polled — disagreed with the move to allow permanent residents to vote.
Permanent residents made up 6 per cent of those polled (159 people) — a sample considerably lower than their percentage in the population as a whole (15 per cent, according to the Maytree Foundation). Surprisingly, 32 per cent (51 people) of those non-citizens polled also opposed the move, said Lorne Bozinoff, president and founder of Forum Research.