P.E.I. plebiscite favours mixed member proportional representation

It took four rounds of counting but in final results, mixed member proportional representation came out ahead in a plebiscite on electoral reform held in P.E.I.

36 per cent of voters turn out to cast ballots for electoral reform

(Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

It took four rounds of counting but in final results, mixed member proportional representation has been chosen by voters as a possible replacement for the current system of voting in Prince Edward Island.

The vote was 52.4 per cent in favour of mixed member proportional representation and 42.8 per cent in favour of first past the post.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan said he will issue a statement Tuesday afternoon on the results. He appeared disappointed in the voter turnout of 36 per cent.

"Notwithstanding historic innovations in the methods and time-frame to cast a ballot, offering multiple options to vote on-line, by telephone and in-person over a 10 day period, Island voters responded at a rate substantially below our well-established voting track record," he said in written statement Monday night.

P.E.I.'s current system is first past the post, one in which voters are required to indicate on the ballot the candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate wins.

Mixed member proportional is a hybrid system that combines proportional representation with the current system.

Under P.E.I.'s proposed MMP model, the number of districts on the Island would be reduced from 27 to 18. MLAs in those 18 districts would be elected the same way they are now — the candidate with the most votes wins.

Under this model there would also be nine list seats for MLAs, to bring the total back up to 27. Those nine seats would be assigned to parties in an attempt to match the makeup of seats in the House with the proportion of votes each party received in the election.

36.4 per cent of voters cast ballots. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

The plebiscite result does not guarantee any changes will take place, at least not right away. Unlike a referendum, it is not binding on the government.

​The plebiscite also represents a first in Canadian electoral events. It is the first time a Canadian province has featured telephone and online voting. As well, 16 and 17 year olds were permitted to vote.   

With files from Kerry Campbell