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Why we might want it

A made-in-BC electoral system

After months of studying alternative electoral systems, listening to British Columbians' views and
reading formal submissions, members of the Citizens' Assembly recommend our province adopt a
new voting system - a system that is fair, easy to use and gives more power to voters.
This system, which members custom-designed to meet British Columbia's specific needs, is a
variation of the proportional representation by single transferable vote system - often abbreviated
PR-STV or STV. This made-in-BC electoral system was selected over all competitors because it
best addressed three over-riding values: proportionality, local representation and voter choice.
Currently, STV is used in Ireland, Australia and a number of municipalities. Ireland has had STV
for most of the last century. Despite attempts by their government to change the system, the Irish
have steadfastly voted to keep STV.

How BC-STV works

Under the BC-STV system, voters rank candidates on the ballot paper. BC-STV is designed to
reflect voters' support for candidates and parties as fairly as possible. It does this by ensuring that
the share of votes for candidates and parties in a riding and across the province is reflected in the
share of seats won in the Legislature
BC-STV is similar to our current system in some very important ways.
The total number of MLAs remains the same - 79. All 79 MLAs are elected by local ridings.
Voters have the same level of representation; the ratio of voters to MLA is unchanged.
However, BC-STV differs from our current, first-past-the-post system in several ways:
Ridings are larger; each riding elects more than one MLA - as few as two and as many as seven
The voter ranks candidates on the ballot paper in the order of the voter's preferences.

Benefits of BC-STV

BC-STV is fair. Each party's share of seats in the legislature reflects its share of voter support.
This proportionality means voters views are fairly represented.
BC-STV is easy to use and gives voters more choice. Voters rank candidates in the order of their
preference (1, 2, 3, etc) - picking and choosing between candidates from the same party or from
several different parties, including independents. Candidates are elected based on voters' choices.
BC-STV gives more power to voters. Voters can select and rank candidates from any or all parties
- including independents. Voters decide which candidates from any one party are elected, so all
candidates must work hard to earn voter support. This ensures effective local representation.

Example - BC-STV ballot (assuming three MLAs in the riding)

Ballot - Instructions: Rank candidates in the order of your preference by placing a number in the box to the right of each candidate's name. "1" shows your first choice, "2" your second choice, "3" your third choice, etc. You may rank as many candidates as you wish, from as many parties as you wish, but you must rank at least one.

Apple Party Candidates

Pear Party Candidates

Peach Party Candidates

Independents

Chris

 

Brooke

 

Shoni

 

Sharon

 

Jyoti

 

Art

 

Firmin

 

Stan

 

Georges

 

Cheryl

 

Jean

 

 

 

At the polling booth

The counting process ensures that ballots go to elect a candidate of the voter's choice. The first
preference is the most important, but other preferences marked on the ballot may come into play if the
voter's first choice has no chance of getting elected or has more support than needed to get elected.
Because voters are electing more than one MLA in a riding, the ballot could list several candidates
for each party, as well as independent candidates. Voters can rank as many or as few candidates as
they wish. If a voter's first-choice candidate is not elected, chances are that the voter's second
preference would contribute to electing a candidate. MLAs are elected based on voter support as
indicated by the voter preferences.
After the polls close, ballots are counted in such a way as to ensure the most preferred candidates
are elected. Elections BC - a non-partisan Office of the Legislature - would continue to supervise
elections. And scrutineers would continue to ensure ballots are counted accurately.

Ridings

Under BC-STV, ridings are larger and each riding elects more than one MLA. This is how BC-STV
achieves proportional representation and why, under BC-STV, independent candidates and those
from smaller parties have more chance of being elected.
The Assembly's BC-STV system would allow the size of ridings and the number of MLAs elected
per riding to vary across the province to reflect local and regional conditions. In sparsely populated
areas, districts could comprise 2-3 MLAs and, in denser urban districts as many as seven MLAs.
For example, two current ridings could be combined so, in the new riding, voters would elect two
MLAs. The ratio of MLAs to citizens would not change.
Ridings with two MLAs, such as those anticipated in northern BC, would still be smaller than
federal electoral districts. This system would not result in any reduction in the number of MLAs
representing rural areas. In the Lower Mainland, for example, the 10 existing Vancouver ridings
could be combined to form two districts each electing five MLAs.
The independent electoral boundaries commission would draw the new electoral districts after
holding hearings in all parts of the province and taking into account community interests.
 

How BC-STV works
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