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By Gary Graves | April 22, 2005
B.C. Voters will cast special ballots on May 17th in a referendum on
A "Yes" vote could have a profound impact on the way you vote in the
future and how you think about your vote and democracy. A "No" vote
means the system stays the same as it is now.
It's not fair to say the two systems are like apples and oranges. They
have much in common. It's more accurate to think of them as cousins,
like apples and pears:
- Every eligible voter gets one ballot and one vote.
- There are political parties.
- The government is formed by the party with the most MLAs, and the
premier is that party's leader.
- The opposition is formed by the party(s) that elect fewer members.
- The lieutenant governor is the royal representative in the province.
A "Yes" vote means the BC-STV system would be adopted for the 2009
election. Even though the way votes are counted would change, the size
of electoral districts would change and the number of MLAs from a district
would be increased, some things would not change:
- Elections BC, the independent legislature body, would still administer
- Your eligibility to vote would be the same.
- The mechanics of voting, such as Election Day, advance polls and
opportunities to vote would remain the same.
- The total number of MLAs (currently 79) would not change unless
the provincial population changes dramatically. Increasing the number
of MLAs occurs every decade or so, as a normal part of democracy.
- The role of the lieutenant governor, the government, the cabinet
and the legislature would not change.
- There would still be elections every four years in May.
Our table compares the existing system of Plurality – sometimes
called "First Past The Post" because it elects only the one candidate
who receives the most votes – with BC-STV, which is a form of
Proportional Representation that elects candidates based on the proportion
of the population that voted for them or their party.
Critics of the current FPTP system claim that it can elect candidates
who do not represent the popular vote of an electoral district. For
example, if there were three candidates running and all ten votes in
a riding were fairly equally split, the winner would need only four
out of ten votes to be victorious. The two losers might have three votes
This means that the winning candidate, who is elected to represent
all people in the district, came to office when 60 per cent of the population
did not want him or her.
In an STV system, perhaps two candidates would receive four votes,
and both would be elected to the legislature.
Critics of STV say that it could lead to more minority or coalition
(See the Election Dictionary for definitions
(First Past The Post)
Single Transferable Vote
of MLAs elected
in each district
||Between 2 and 7, depending upon density of population
and geography. Generally, urban areas would elect a higher number
per district, and rural areas would elect a smaller number.|
districts in the province
||Unknown until decided by Electoral Boundary Commission
– likely between 15-25.|
size of electoral districts
||Large differences between urban and rural districts,
from 9 km2 to over 100,000 km2.
||Average size would be larger than currently, because
more than one MLA would be elected from each district; there would
still be relatively smaller urban districts and large rural districts.
||Can vary widely. Proportionality is not a goal
of this voting system.
|Fairly high degree of proportionality; some variance
depending upon district magnitude.|
|Ballots in most districts have 5-8 candidates.
|Would be larger, likely between ten and 25-35
candidates, depending upon district magnitude.
||Candidates listed alphabetically, with party affiliation
Candidates would be grouped by party.
Independents would be listed together.
the names of candidates within a group would be rotated at random.
the order of groups would be rotated at random.
||Voters mark an X next to their preferred candidate.
||Voters rank as many candidates as they wish (1,2,3,4
||One candidate with the most votes wins that electoral
First preferences are counted and the electoral quota established.
Any candidate reaching the quota is elected.
Vote transfers take place to determine further successful candidates.
|Source: Elections BC