COPE to host debate on single-transferable-vote and first-past-the-post voting systems

COPE is hosting a debate on Wednesday (April 1) on electoral reform featuring leading campaigners on both sides.

At 7 p.m. at Creative Individual Studio (#110 60 East 5th Avenue), Bill Tieleman of the "no" committee will square off against Antony Hodgson of the "yes" committee.

Elections B.C. is dividing $1 million between the no and yes committees to enable them to  get their messages out  in time for the May 12 referendum, which will coincide with the provincial election.

This is probably the most important referendum in B.C. history because it might determine the method for electing legislators for the rest of our lives.

Under first-past-the-post, the candidate with the most votes wins in each of 85 geographic constituencies. Under BC-STV—which was recommended by a Citizens' Assembly—candidates would be elected in multimember districts, with voters' second, third and possibly fourth or even fifth preferences being taken into account.

Proponents of BC-STV say it will result in a legislature that more accurately reflects voters' intentions, rather than having a winner-take-all system in which a party can capture a majority with less than 40 percent of the vote.

Proponents of first-past-the-post say that under BC-STV, the person who gains the most first-place votes still might not win the election.

According to the Electoral Reform Referendum 2009 Act,  the result of the referendum is binding on the government only if 60 percent vote in favour  and if in 60 percent of the electoral districts, more than 50 percent vote in favour.

The Georgia Straight will have more on the referendum on electoral reform in the next printed edition of the paper, which will be distributed across Metro Vancouver on Thursday (April 2).

Anyone interested in voting in the next provincial election can go to Voters have until April 21 to register prior to the election. It's possible to register on voting day (May 12), which might involve waiting in a lineup before getting a chance to cast a ballot.



Wayne Smith

Mar 30, 2009 at 11:58am

Voters who wish to make an informed choice should read the final report and recommendations of the BC Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform:

Then you will know exactly what is being proposed, by whom, and why.

6 11Rating: -5


Mar 30, 2009 at 3:30pm

"Proponents of first-past-the-post say that under BC-STV, the person who gains the most first-place votes still might not win the election."

What are they thinking? - FPTP gives screwy results -

-- In 1996 the NDP won 39 seats, a majority, with 39.45% of the vote. The Liberals, with more votes at 41.82%, was left in opposition with only 33 seats.

If we don't change system now, reform will be set back for decades.

8 10Rating: -2

Antony Hodgson

Mar 31, 2009 at 12:34pm

"Proponents of first-past-the-post say that under BC-STV, the person who gains the most first-place votes still might not win the election." Huh? This is technically possible in the same way that it's technically possible for someone to win with our current voting system if they only win one vote (eg, if no-one else shows up to vote). Let's talk instead about what will certainly happen.

With STV, candidates only win if they secure the support of close to a current riding's worth of voters (about 70-90%). With our current system, candidates can win with a small plurality of the vote (often under 40%).

With STV, upwards of 90% of voters will be represented by an MLA of their choice; with our current system, only about half.

Come out Wednesday to hear more about why the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform nearly unanimously recommended BC-STV.

Antony Hodgson
Director, Fair Voting BC
Supporting the recommendation of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform
Check for information on the May 12th referendum

5 9Rating: -4


May 13, 2009 at 11:53am

A Two-Vote Electoral System Proposed

The need for electoral reform resonated with me. While the Single Transferable Vote concept was not acceptable to BC Voters, I believe it would be a mistake to give up on electoral reform. I believe first-past-the-post voting system is wrong because it allows disenfranchisement and encourages voter apathy.

I would support a simpler electoral reform, such as a Two-Vote electoral system. The province would be divided into 43 constituencies which would elect two representatives. The ballot would allow a Voter to choose their top candidate using the traditional “first-past-the-post” method, and allow a second vote for Voter’s alternative choice of a political party or identified independents. Simple rule, between your two votes, you can’t vote for the same party twice (unless you wish to register an abstention).

This simple binary voting system would not be as perfect as STV, but would result in a legislature that is more representative. Knowing you have two representatives to choose from in your constituency would encourage greater voter turnout because their votes would matter and result in increased representation.

Could you support simpler Two-Vote electoral system?

10 5Rating: +5