A referendum on whether or not to change the provincial voting system will be held in BC in fall 2018. Registered voters will receive a voting package in the mail. The campaign period starts July 1st with the voting period lasting from October 22nd to November 30th. You can register to vote online here.
Voters will see a two-part question:
1. Which system should BC use for provincial elections? (Vote for only one)
• The current First Past the Post voting system
• A proportional representation voting system
2. If BC adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following voting systems do you prefer?
• Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
• Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
• Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)
If you don’t know which system you prefer, you can leave the second question blank. Your vote in Question 1 still counts!
If a proportional respresentation system is voted in, the current BC government has committed to using it for two province wide elections, then giving voters a chance to decide if they want to keep this new system.
But at this time let’s review some of the disadvantages of the system we currently use, the First Past the Post (FPTP):
• False majorities – less than 50% of the vote delivers 100% power to the winning party;
• False majority governments can fail to reflect the priorities of the majority of the people they “represent”;
• After every election at least half of all voters don’t get a provincial Member of Parliament aligned with their values;
• Widespread disaffection with our political system results in low voter turnout and troubling low participation rates among young people. People believe their vote won’t make a difference;
• The need for strategic voting, defined as choosing the lesser evil, means many voters seldom get a provincial Member of Parliament who shares their views;
• Some regions have no Members of Parliament in the governing party at all. This is currently true for the Okanagan, Shuswap, Boundary, Thompson and Cariboo regions;
• Incoming government spends much money and energy undoing the work of the previous government, and the process gets repeated when the next turn to the right or left occurs. This is known as “policy lurch.”
Let’s review some of the advantages of Proportional Representation (PR) as seen in other countries:
• Voter intention is respected – 39% of the vote should equal 39% of the seats;
• Most votes count towards electing a provincial Member of Parliament;
• More motivation to vote – voter turnout up to 7.5% higher;
• Reduces the need for strategic voting;
• More fiscally responsible and stable governments;
• Decrease in income inequality;
• False majorities should no longer happen;
• Parliaments less adversarial and abuses of power are reduced;
• Voters are more satisfied with the quality of their democracy;
• Stronger long-term planning and less “policy lurch”;
• Parliament reflects a wider range of political views and more women and minorities get elected;
• Higher scores on measures of health, education, the economy, the environment and standards of living.
For more information see Fair Vote Canada.