B.C. voters reject single transferable vote for the second time

British Columbians have rejected electoral reform for the second time in four years.

Referendum results show that single transferable vote has failed to gain the support of 60 percent of voters, which it needed to supplant the current first-past-the-post system.

STV also needed to get more than 50 percent of the votes in at least 60 percent of the province’s 85 electoral districts.

In the 2005 election, 57.69 percent of B.C. voters endorsed STV.

If STV had passed this time around, it would have been put in place for the next scheduled election in 2013.

The voting system would have seen B.C. go from 85 single-member ridings to 20 multiple-member ridings, while keeping the same number of MLAs.

Version of STV are used in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland

Under STV systems, voters rank candidates on their ballot in order of preference. The number of seats won by political parties more closely resembles their share of the overall popular vote. Minority and coalition governments are more likely under STV.

The Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, created by the province in 2003, recommended STV in 2004.

The provincial government gave $500,000 to two groups, British Columbians for BC-STV (aka Fair Voting B.C.) and No STV, which ran the official “yes” and “no” campaigns for this year’s referendum.

You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.



Wayne Smith

May 13, 2009 at 12:39am

Once again, one political party has all the power, even though most people voted against them. Apparently most people in BC think that's OK.

I don't think it's OK, and I'm not going to stop saying so.


May 13, 2009 at 3:11am

Bill Tieleman is already patting himself on the back for a job well done. What a hack. No thanks to Carole James either. Let me guess - in four years from now these two will be telling everyone it's their moral responsibilty to vote strategically. How predictable.

I hope these two just disappear never to be heard of again, but I somehow doubt that. Fairness and social justice, eh?


May 13, 2009 at 5:03am

Forget about it Wayne.

The majority of the people around you are terrified at the thought of not having someone in charge of them, a boss. Just the idea of having to be a little more engaged in their own political lives is unfathomable. They want someone in charge, as long as it's not them.


May 13, 2009 at 8:18am

57% in favour last time, 38% this time. No support here. Or maybe we can keep voting on it until we get the result we want.


May 13, 2009 at 9:18am

Let it go. STV was just too confusing for the average voter to understand it. While STV might have been pushed by the Citizen's Assembly for the right reasons, it was clearly the wrong solution.

The Citizen's Assembly had plenty of other hybrid solutions to choose from that would have allowed smaller parties a better chance at delivering a voice and they rejected them in favour of something that was ultimately unsaleable to the electorate.

People wanting electoral reform need to step-back, re-examine the situation and find a more workable solution.


May 13, 2009 at 9:22am

What a sad day to be a British Columbian... though as a communications professional, I'm not at all suprised. None of the basic rules of communication where followed, starting from a simple thing like the name. What if it had been called 'Fair Vote' or 'Equal Vote' instead of sounding like a ill-gotten medical condition. And all of the marketing material I saw concentrated on explaining the system - TOO COMPLICATED - instead of focusing on the benefits AND pointing out that this system and other proportional representation systems function well around the world. So who controls the communication?

And I think the NDP have some of the blame too. If they had championed STV as a core part of their platform, it may have had a chance.

Jim Packer

May 13, 2009 at 10:43am

The first past the post in the only workable system. The majority did not as many try to say vote jointly against the government they all voted for the party of their chose which is their democratic right. Unfortunately for them their party did not get the majority of ridings which the Liberals obviously did. In government as with all walks of life somebody has to have the final say. STV never produces a winner only confusion, it is a system without looses NOT WORKABLE. Congratulations to the common sense voters of BC. As for the other parties better they spend time on improving their policies rather than try to rig the voting system.


May 13, 2009 at 12:19pm

The pro-STV side is to blame for the defeat. Four years ago I listened to a pro-STV "expert" on a radio show basically just patronizing every caller who had concerns about the new system. They had 4 years to get it right after it came so close and they did absolutely nothing. Obviously, the current system can be improved when a less popular party can and had grabbed majority power for 5 years. But there are also good things about the current system that people are not prepare to just throw it all away.

Leanne L.

May 13, 2009 at 9:49pm


While your assessment of the communication strategy is sound, unfortunately, your points may be fruitless because you are essentially underestimating the intelligence of informed and curious voters. While the STV does indeed sound like a fluid-swapping condition, it is what it is--a single transferable vote system. 'Fair Vote' and 'Equal Representation' terminologies were used throughout the campaign and it didn't quite resonate. Focus on benefits were also exercised and some people certainly bought on. The need to explain the system was necessary to justify how the results will pan. It sounded TOO COMPLICATED because it is! It's a convoluted system that skews votes to minorities that would have not otherwise receive those votes. This was a referendum for electoral reform, EFW--not some advertising for shaving cream or pantyliner.