British Columbia is about to make a big decision. In a nutshell, there will be a referendum this fall where voters get to decide if we want to keep our current voting system or move to a system of proportional representation.
Registered voters will get their voting package in the mail, starting October 22. And if you don’t think voting in the referendum is important enough to tear you away from the latest episode of GLOW, you couldn’t be more wrong. This could change everything! Or not change anything! Maybe you want change, or maybe you like things just the way they are—either way, you decide. And you’ll want to know all the ins and outs to make sure your vote counts.
Q: What are we voting on?
The referendum will decide which voting system B.C. uses for provincial elections. You’ll be asked two questions on the ballot. The first question asks whether we should keep the current First Past the Post voting system or move to a system of proportional representation. The second question asks you to rank three proportional systems in order of preference: Dual Member Proportional (DMP), Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), and Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP). You can answer one or both questions, and you can choose to rank one, two, or all three systems on the second question.
Q: When can I vote in the upcoming referendum?
The voting period is October 22 to November 30, and your referendum voting package should arrive in the mail between October 22 and November 2. The deadline for Elections B.C. to receive your completed voting package is 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30.
Q: How do I know if I’m eligible to vote?
This is an easy one. You can vote if you’re a Canadian citizen, 18 or older on November 30, 2018, and have been a resident of B.C. since at least May 29, 2018.
Q: What if I don’t get a voting package in the mail?
If your voting package hasn’t arrived by November 2, you’ve got a few options. Call Elections B.C. at 1-(800) 661-8683 or visit elections.bc.ca/ovr. Or if you’re one of those people who craves face-to-face human interaction, you can visit a Referendum Service Office or Service B.C. Centre starting November 5. You have until November 23 to request a voting package if you haven’t received one.
Q: I’m going to be away this fall, what should I do?
Don’t worry, you can still vote! You can provide Elections B.C. with a temporary mailing address where they can send your voting package, or you can pick one up at a Referendum Service Office or Service B.C. Centre.
Q: I voted! What happens next?
When the results come in, if more than half of the votes on the first question want First Past the Post to stay, everything stays the same. If more than half the votes want to switch to a proportional system, the system with the most support on Question 2 will be adopted. If we go proportional, the new system must be in place for provincial elections called on or after July 1, 2021.
If a proportional system is adopted, a legislative committee will decide some aspects of how the new system will work, and an independent electoral boundaries commission will decide on the number and boundaries of the new electoral districts and regions in the province.
Q: I’m still not sure about a few things and want to learn more. What should I do?
For more info on all of this, plus a few helpful illustrations, visit elections.bc.ca/referendum.More