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General · 19th July 2018
Bonnie Brownstein
Part two in this series provides important information about how to register to vote in this fall’s referendum on BC’s voting system. It also discusses what Proportional Representation is, which countries already use such a system, and what all the systems on the ballot have in common.

How do I register to vote?
You can register to vote if you are 18 years old AND a Canadian citizen AND a BC resident for the last six months. If you voted in the 2017 B.C. election, you are most likely registered to vote, but if you are not sure or have moved, call Elections BC Voter Services at 1-800-661-8683. You can register here to vote or update your information online.

This is how to get around the fact that all of us on Quadra have a PO Box as our mailing address: Enter your street address first without a PO Box. Once you have finished with this screen the system will prompt you to enter a mailing address. Only enter your PO Box number, town, province and postal code – NOT your street address. When you finish the whole process you will see your home and mailing addresses listed separately. You will get an email of confirmation.

So, what is Proportional Representation anyway?
Proportional Representation is a voting system in which the distribution of seats in the BC Legislative Assembly is apt to be proportional to the distribution of votes between the parties. A party that gets 39% of the vote gets pretty close to 39% of the seats. Under our current system, 39% of the vote can and has translated into a majority government with 100% of the power.

Which countries use Proportional Representation and which do not?
Over 90 countries use a proportional respresentation system, including over 80 percent of OECD countries (our peers). This includes economically successful countries such as Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Many of these countries have used their current system for decades, without negative results such as too frequent elections. Canada, the US and the UK still use a First Past the Post system federally.

What do all three systems on the BC Referendum have in common?
All of them are better than what we have now! All of them will mean the people who get elected more accurately reflect the values of the voters who voted for them because voters are less likely to vote strategically. All three systems maintain local representation so no area is without a representative in the BC Legislative Assembly. All three systems retain about the same number of MLAs we have now, although that number may slightly increase. All three systems require that a party must get at least 5% of the vote province wide in order to win a seat. This prevents fringe parties from getting elected. In the last three federal elections all 15-20 fringe parties put together got less than 1% of the vote.

Stay tuned! On September 16th there will be a public meeting re PR at the community centre – details TBA. For more information see Fair Vote Canada BC