Saturday, May 16, 2009

BC Referendum on Voting System - The Results

British Columbians did not vote to pass the Referendum for changing the way we vote in this Province. The Single Transferable Vote did not win the necessary number of votes to become binding on our new government.

There are 75 electoral districts which have completed their initial count, and 10 districts left to report. However, it seems that the preliminary voting results will stand.

The following is directly from Elections BC (

For BC-STV to be selected as the preferred electoral system and for the result to be binding on government, two thresholds must be met:

  1. At least 60% of the valid votes province-wide must be cast in favour of BC-STV
  2. In at least 51 of the 85 electoral districts, more than 50% of the valid votes in the electoral district must be cast in favour of BC-STV

If either of these thresholds is not met, the result of the referendum is not binding on government.

As of May 13, 2009 4:00 p.m. the preliminary results are:

% of valid votes province-wide in favour of BC-STV


Number of electoral districts with 50% or more of the valid votes cast in favour of BC-STV


We did not want the suggested change to the way we elect member to the Provincial Legislative assembly. We may be asked again at the next election. If we are, we will need more information.

We will also need more options. We need a solution that is as unique as British Columbia. What we were offered was simply a carbon copy of a system used in other parts of the world.

We have a large land mass. Different parts of the Province have differing needs. Those needs have to be addressed. Are they being met by the type of representation we currently use? Clearly, the people of BC did not think that the proposed “first past the post” or “single transferable vote” system would serve them.

Yet, also clearly, the people of BC do want some type of political reform. People want to know that their vote counts. They want to know that they are represented.

Will this be an end to the question of election reform? The STV Referendum may have failed, but that may not be the end of the issue. Will we want a new look at the whole question?

There were only 2 questions put before the electorate. The original committee’s mandate could not look beyond this question. Does that mean we to broaden the issue.

Or do we leave this issue for a while and focus solely on the economy and its recovery?

BC has a history of having unique political frontiers, even in types of adversity. We are often viewed as being in a political “LaLa” or “Lotus” Land by the rest of Canada. They think we are politicially nuts. Perhaps we are.

However, some of our "crazy west coast" political initiatives have become the staple of mainstream politics. We were the first province to embrace the green movement, including the Green Party. We were the first to do a referendum on Senate Reform. We were even the first province to (unofficially) call our Premier the Prime Minister (remember Wacky Bennett?). Ok, maybe that went too far.

We have not heard the last of political reform in BC. The First Past the Post or Single Transferrable Vote system was not accepted by British Columbians on May 12. That does not mean that the question is dead. Mark my words, we will see it again. Hopefully, in a form that fits the uniqueness of British Columbia. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Wayne Smith said...

BC-STV is not a carbon copy of anything. Although based on the system used in Ireland for the last 80 years, and the system used in Tasmania for 100 years, and systems used in Scotland and Wales, it is a unique system designed by a representative group of BC citizens chosen at random from the voters lists, and tailored to BC's needs. They spent a year learning about voting systems around the world and consulting with BC citizens through over 1600 written submissions and over 50 public meetings.

BC-STV is quite possibly the best and most sophisticated system ever devised for maximising voter choice and accurately translating voter preferences into electoral representation.

The referendum failed because, once again, the public education campaign was hopelessly inadequate, so voters were easily misled and confused by those with an entrenched interest in the current system.

Electoral reform will be back, because we still have an unfair voting system that horribly distorts the results of every election.