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On the cusp of electoral reform in BC.

I saw news about this poll yesterday at several different blogs, and as a supporter of electoral reform, of course I’m very happy to see this:

Poll: 65 per cent of British Columbians support BC-STV
Younger voters overwhelming in their support

Vancouver, B.C. – The numbers are in and British Columbia voters are giving a big thumbs up to electoral reform with 65 per cent saying they will vote for BC-STV in the upcoming referendum on May 12. That is the top line result of a major survey conducted by Angus Reid Strategies. Support for a new way of electing our MLAs is particularly strong among younger voters – those 18 to 34 – at 74 per cent.

This referendum requires the electoral reform question to be passed with a 60% threshold rate, so If these polling number percentages hold up to May 12, and the polling sample translates over to the general populace, BC will become the first political jurisdiction in Canada to ditch the current “First Past the Post” system of voting and enact electoral reform by embracing a new electoral system in Single-Transferable Vote (STV).

I won’t re-hash the arguments for or against again (though Matt will remind you at his blogpost why this proposed setup is better then the current and anarchic First-Past-The-Post system), but I’ll say in brief that in order for Canadians to accept wholesale electoral reform, I believe they’ll need to see an alternative electoral voting system running in practice, rather then just theory, and BC voters have the opportunity to give Canadians that chance.

No doubt the BC “No to STV” side will try to ramp up fears against STV (I believe the most common one I’ve heard is “it’s too complex”), so the Yes side will need to remain vigilant and on guard to rebut these charges, but this initial poll gives me increasing hope that we are finally on our way to updating our antiquated electoral system.

UPDATE @ 4:32 pm: Aaron, who has long been on record since I’ve seen him start to blog of opposing any electoral reform and keeping the current FPTP system intact as it is (at least, I’ve never seen him endorse anything beyond keeping the status quo), comes up with a novel argument – STV will make the BC elections more expensive. Apparently to Aaron, being able to get results faster is far better then a fairer voting system. Needless to say, I think that’s a rather silly argument, even if his argument was true (which I have my doubts about). I’d rather have a fairer election then a faster one, if it came down to that, thanks very much.

5 comments to On the cusp of electoral reform in BC.

  • Jamie Deith

    The whole “STV is more expensive” argument is really shaky, mainly because there would be a dramatic decrease in the total number of candidates. If we look at an ‘average’ district with 4 seats, neither the NDP or Liberals would likely win more than 2 out of the 4 seats, although 3 is arguably possible if their support surges above 60%. Naturally both parties will want to have the candidates available to take the seats if the support is there, so let’s assume 3 candidates from both of the big parties per 4-seat district. That works out to maybe 64 candidates each given that the average district size is a little bigger than 4. The Greens on the other hand have virtually no chance of winning any more than one seat anywhere except the 6- and 7-seat districts, so at most we would expect 22 Green candidates. So, total STV candidacies for Liberal, NDP, and Greens combined: 150. Under first past the post it’s 85×3=255.

    Personally I think the campaign costs will be about the same, just allocated differently. In the case of the Greens probably much more efficiently.

  • The Rat

    And if you don’t we’ll make you vote yet again. Until us dumb bastards give the correct answer we’ll just keep voting, I guess.

    • @The Rat, This measure got 58% backing 4 years ago – any other measure (i.e. an election under FPTP) this type of result would have been an overwhelming mandate for change. The re-introduction of it 4 years later is more then valid, IMO.

  • Greg

    Go BC! Show the rest of the country how it is done.

  • […] 17, 2009 · No Comments According to where the polls are at right now, there is substantial support for BC’s shift to proportional representation in the provincial legislature. Should these numbers hold, I suspect that there will be a cascade […]

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