Do you ever feel like your vote doesn’t count because the parties you vote for never get in? Then you’ll definitely want to say “yes” to proportional representation in the upcoming referendum on provincial electoral reform.
I know it’s a bit confusing with two important votes happening about the same time, but once the Oct. 20 municipal election is over, we’ll have a chance to make voting fairer in the November referendum on changing our provincial voting system to proportional representation.
Unlike the municipal election where we’ll go to the polls and vote, the provincial referendum will be conducted by a mail-in ballot you will receive in a voting package mailed to you by Elections BC between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2.
I’m very excited about this referendum, as I’ve long been a supporter of shifting from the current first-past-the-post system to proportional representation.
Proportional representation would result in the legislature more accurately reflecting the popular vote. Let me explain.
With the current first-past-the-post system a party can win the overwhelming majority of seats in the legislature with as little as, say, 40 percent of the popular vote. Under proportional representation — or pro rep, as it’s known in shorthand — a party winning 40 percent of the popular vote would get 40 percent of the seats.
In the last provincial election in 2017, the BC Green Party received nearly 17 percent of the popular vote. However, they only won 3 of the 87 seats, or about 3 percent. Under a new and much fairer pro rep system, the BC Green Party would have won 20 seats in that election.
With the legislature much more accurately reflecting the results of the popular vote for all parties, we would see much more cooperation between political parties. To get a bill passed by the legislative assembly, the different parties would be forced to work with each other.
Even more exciting, the up-coming referendum on provincial proportional representation might also open the door to pro rep at the municipal level.
Already, Vancouver mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart is talking about the possibly of conducting future Vancouver municipal elections under a pro rep system. This would be a terrific change! Sadly, municipal elections are currently notorious for their low voter turnout because once voters feel their vote doesn’t count, they stop coming out to the polls.
Fingers crossed that the pro rep referendum at the provincial level is approved by the electorate and we can finally move to a much fairer electoral system. Even better if it spurs a fairer, pro rep system for Vancouver’s next municipal election. It would mean more people voting and a healthier democracy for everyone.
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To be able to vote in this important referendum on proportional representation, make sure you’re registered to vote provincially.
You can vote in the referendum if you are:
- a Canadian citizen,
18 or older as of Nov. 30, 2018, and
a resident of B.C. for at least 6 months immediately before Nov. 30, 2018.
You can register on-line with Elections BC here or call 1-800-661-8683. If you do not receive a voting package by mail, you can request one from Elections BC from Nov. 3 to Nov. 23. Once you receive your voting package, you must return your mail-in ballot by November 30.
Voters will be asked two questions on the referendum ballot:
- Should we keep the current first-past-the-post voting system or move to proportional representation?
- Rank three proportional systems: Dual Member Proportional (DMP), Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), and Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP).
You can learn about these systems here from Elections BC. I’ll discuss the three different systems in an upcoming blog.