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By Duncan Speight | Updated May 9, 2005
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BC-STV AND FPTP?
While the number of MLAs remains unchanged, there will be fewer ridings,
each electing between two and seven members. Instead of just voting
once as you do in a first-past-the-post system, you rank the candidates
in order of preference -1,2,3 4 etc. That way, your vote doesn't just
count once - allowing second, third and subsequent preferences to have
an impact on the results.
WHAT'S THE BENEFIT OF CHANGING SYSTEMS?
STV would make election results proportional. A party's share of legislative
seats would more closely match its share of the popular vote. That should
deal with concerns about governments winning majority governments with
less than half of the popular vote.
It would also mean that independents and candidates from smaller parties
are more likely to be elected, creating greater diversity in the legislature.
Candidates would also be more likely to focus on local or regional
issues. And since ridings will elect more than one MLA, citizens will
have more choice if they need help in dealing with government.
WHO SUGGESTED THE CHANGE?
The Citizens' Assembly on Electroral Reform was an independent non-partisan
group of 160 randomly selected British Columbians - 80 women and 80
men - plus the appointed chair.
The Citizens' Assembly was initiated in May 2003 by the provincial
government. It held 50 public hearings around the province and reviewed
more 1,600 submissions
Assembly members voted 95 per cent in favour of the BC-STV system.
HOW WILL MY VOTING BE ALTERED?
Instead of just voting for one candidate with an X, you will rank the
candidates in your riding 1,2,3,4 etc.
Your number one choice is the most important; the other preferences
will be used to support another candidate if and when your first choice
has no chance of getting elected or has more than enough support to
WHAT EFFECT WILL THIS HAVE ON POLITICAL PARTIES?
Governments would usually continue to be formed by large parties, though
perhaps in coalition with another party or parties. This could lead
to a less adversarial form of government.
Candidates would be grouped by party on the STV ballot to aid people
in selecting their preferences.
A key difference in a BC-STV election is that the system is candidate-based,
rather than party-based - and that means voters would choose which of
the party's candidates they prefer to represent them.
WILL BC-STV BE COUNTED BY COMPUTER?
The Assembly has designed BC-STV so the count could be done by hand.
However, counting the results could be also be done via computer voting
or machine-readable paper ballots.
WHERE ELSE HAS THIS SYSTEM BEEN TRIED?
Currently, STV is used in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland,
the Isle of Man, Malta and in some Australian elections. It was also
used in local elections in Estonia in 1989 and 1990. A report was done
for the Scottish Parliament on how STV works in those countries
This system has already been used in Canada. At the provincial level, Calgary and Edmonton MLAs were elected this way from 1926 to 1959. And the new Conservative Party of Canada used a single transferable ballot in electing its new leader, Stephen Harper, in March, 2004.
WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR THE REFERENDUM?
To pass and become binding on the provincial government, the May 17
referendum has to win a double majority:
If the referendum passes, the government would bring legislation to ensure
the new electoral system is in place for the election of May 2009.
- Approval by at least 60 per cent of the validly cast ballots province-wide.
- And approval by more than 50 per cent of the validly cast ballots
in at least 48 of the 79 constituencies. (A simple majority in 60
per cent of the ridings).
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Call the B.C. Referendum Information Office:
Phone: Toll-free: 1-800-668-2800
In Vancouver: 604-775-2800
Hours of operation: 7:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday.
Mail: PO Box 9232 Stn Prov Govt,