Make Democracy Better: The Results Are In…

For the past month, Nova Scotians have been sharing their views on ways to make democracy better in our province. 

For the past month, Nova Scotians have been sharing their views on ways to make democracy better in our province.  We presented participants with over 15 specific proposals to improve democracy trough an online platform. Our goal was to learn which of these proposals participants were most eager to explore deeper, and to follow through by making those issues priorities for research and community engagement at Springtide.

We held the conversation using an online platform called Ethelo, a tool for helping large groups make decisions online. The decision closed at midnight, Friday July 3rd and the results are in. We heard from a total of 264 participants.

High Priority Proposals

Some of the proposals  generated very high interest with more than 90% of participants supporting further exploration. These issues included:

- a shift towards transparency and openness in the provincial government (99%),

- exploring alternatives to the first-past-the-post voting system (90%),

- empowering and improving legislative committees (93%),

- prioritizing and revitalizing civics education in schools (95%),

Low Priority Proposals 

We also identified a few proposals that, while regularly discussed in the media and other forums, were the lowest of priorities for further exploration among participants. These issues generated only 50-60% of support for more discussion. These issues included:

- mandatory voting laws (50%),

- lowering the legal voting age to 16 (51%),

- implementing term limits for elected officials (59%),

What’s next

Today, we’re sharing the raw findings from our last month of engagement activity with you, the participants, and members of the Springtide community. This concludes the views sharing stage of our project. The next stage is research, learning and deliberation. 

In the coming months, we’ll start research on the some of the high priority proposals identified here, and over the next year create opportunities for Nova Scotians to join their neighbours and friends, strangers and adversaries to learn, explore and deliberate on whether or not these proposed changes to our democratic system can lead to a better kind of politics. Once Nova Scotians have had that opportunity, we’ll start working on an action plan to make it happen.

We still need your help
The content of this project has been fueled by the participation and input of many of you. Thank you. You’ve helped shape our priorities, now we’re asking you to help us continue the work. Click here to make a donation to make sure we can continue what we’ve started.

The Full Results 

Results are assessed on two ratings: strength and approval.  The option strength score reflects the depth and breadth of collective support for a given option. This is based on two variables: support and fairness. The option approval score reflects the percentage of all participants who scored the option above neutral. If everyone were to vote only “yes” or “no”, this is the percentage of participants who would vote “yes” in a typical “show of hands” voting system.

Category: Make Elections Better

Top Option in this Category: Consider alternatives to the First Past The Post voting system



Other Options in this category:

Voting rights for permanent residents:


 We asked:
Should we consider giving permanent residents the right to vote in Nova Scotia? (Above)



Term Limits on Premiers and Elected Officials:



Lowering the Voting Age:



Mandatory Voting:



Category: Make Political Parties Better

Top Option in this Category: Consider Regulating Political Advertising to limit attack ads



Other Options in this Category   

Limit party influence on elected officials


We asked: Should we consider policy changes to limit party influence on elected officials in Nova Scotia? (Above)



New regulations for political parties:



Category: Make Public Engagement Better

Top Option in this Category: Public engagement training for public officials



Other Options in this Category

Province-wide standards for public engagement:



Participatory Budgeting



Recalling Elected Officials



Category: Make Political Literacy Better

Top Option in this Category: Consider a shift towards openness and transparency in the Nova Scotia Government



Other Option in this Category: 

Civic Education in Schools



Category:Make the Legislature Better

Top Option in this Category: Consider ways to empower and improve legislative committees



Other Options in this Category 

Reshape the Legislature



More Officers of the Legislature




What’s Next

Now that we’ve identified the priorities for further consideration, we will conduct research on them, and return to Nova Scotians with an opportunity to learn about and discuss those ideas. In the Fall of 2015 and Winter of 2016, we’ll facilitate public education and public engagement activities to determine which options hold the most promise to make our democracy better.  Once Nova Scotians have had that opportunity, we’ll build an action plan to make it happen.

Are you passionate about improving the state of politics Nova Scotia? Do you want to support the next phase of Make Democracy Better? Donate here.

The world is changing, and we need your help to make sure that our democracy changes with it.

- See more at: