British Columbia will be holding its third referendum on proportional representation later this year:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-c ... -1.4683919B.C. to choose between 4 systems for electoral reform referendum
Ballot will have 2 questions: whether to stick with status quo, and which of 3 PR models they prefer
British Columbians will likely choose between four options, spread over two questions, in a referendum over what electoral system they would like to use in the future.
After months of feedback and deliberation, Attorney General David Eby has recommended to cabinet that voters be asked whether they would like to keep the current first-past-the-post voting system, or move to a proportional representation voting system.
People will also be asked in a separate question which of three models of proportional representation they would prefer:
Dual Member Proportional, where most ridings in B.C. are doubled in size, and people are asked to vote for a pair of candidates from each party. The first seats in each district are won by the first candidate of the party that receives the most votes, while the second seat is allocated based on province-wide voting results.
Mixed Member Proportional, which combines the current method of electoral districts with MLAs chosen by parties based on the proportion of the vote in different regions. Most electoral districts would increase in size.
Rural-Urban Proportional Representation, where MLAs in urban and semi-urban areas of the province are chosen using the single transferable vote (a ranked ballot system), and MLAs in rural areas of the province are chosen by a mixed member proportional system.
If more than 50 per cent vote in favour of proportional representation on the first question, whichever of the three systems has the most support on the second question — where people can vote for their first, second and third preferences — will be adopted.
Eby is recommending the vote take place by mail-in ballot between October 22 and November 30, with advertisers having a donation limit of $200,000 once the campaign begins on July 1. Elections BC would be in charge of all education materials in the referendum, and $500,000 each would be given to groups for and against the referendum.
Independent commission to decide boundaries
A number of the design elements and details will be determined by an all-party legislative committee if British Columbians vote to change their electoral system. The boundaries of new electoral districts would be determined by an independent boundaries commission.
Eby said that was due to the number of options British Columbians were being provided with, along with the government's self-imposed deadline of having any new electoral system ready by 2021.
"The realities of that work, in terms of having a system in place, we could not have an electoral boundaries commission complete that process … and meet that timeline," he said.
"If people feel they have enough information to vote [for PR], they will, and if they feel they don't have enough information, they will vote accordingly as well.
However, under any system, there would be no more than eight extra MLAs, and no region of B.C. would have fewer seats. No political party would win seats unless they got more than five per cent of the province-wide or region-wide vote, depending on what system is chosen.
The recommendations will need to be approved by cabinet, but Eby was confident it would happen in short order.
"It's very clear to me that [both groups] are ready to go," he said.
"I would like this process … to begin as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, PEI is going to have it's second referendum on proportional representation next year and it will be synced with their election:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-ed ... -1.4460324P.E.I. could start wave of electoral reform in Canada, student says
'If anyone has a shot at actually succeeding at implementing proportional representation, it's P.E.I.'
A political science student at University of Cambridge believes P.E.I. could be the start of electoral reform across Canada.
Sean Fleming, a PhD student originally from Newfoundland, has been researching electoral systems for about 10 years as a side project and he believes that small jurisdictions produce poor results with a first-past-the-post system.
"Ideally, first-past-the post should produce a two-party system with a stable government and a strong opposition," Fleming said. "But in practice, and especially in small jurisdictions such as P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador, it often produces one-party rule with no credible opposition whatsoever."
Citing the 2000 P.E.I, election when the Progressive Conservatives managed to get 26 out of 27 seats despite only receiving 58 per cent of the vote.
"The parliamentary system requires a strong opposition that holds the government accountable and provides an alternative to voters, and it's impossible for a one member or two or three member opposition to do its job of keeping the government in check," Fleming said.
Two prominent solutions are proportional representation, where seats are decided based on the share of the vote each party garnered, or mixed-member proportional representation, where voters get two votes, one for their local representative and one for their preferred party at the provincial level. Germany and New Zealand both use the mixed-member proportional system.
"I think proportional representation is a solution because it would ensure that the opposition get a share of the seats that's roughly proportional to its vote share," Fleming said.
He said an effective opposition is necessary to stop the government from making bad decisions. In the long run, minority and coalition governments might become the norm, which he said would be a good thing for smaller provinces.
"It ensures that governments have to cooperate with other parties in order to make legislation and make policy," Fleming said.
As for the critiques of proportional representation, Fleming said in practice, the fears that minority and coalition governments would lead to chaos and instability haven't manifested in New Zealand, where every government since its implementation in 1996 except one has finished their term.
"It's resulted in much more collaborative governments, but it hasn't resulted in instability," Fleming said.
Trudeau says stability of Canada outweighs electoral reform
While unsuccessful referendums have been held in provinces across Canada on the subject of electoral reform, Fleming said proponents of proportional representation make the wrong argument.
"Most of the debate focuses on the fairness of the system," Fleming said. "The common argument is that first past the post is unfair because it awards the winning party a disproportionate share of the seats based on its vote share."
"I think the more compelling argument is that first-past-the-post doesn't work. It gives us one or two member oppositions that just can't function."
This is a particular problem in small provinces such as P.E.I. but even on a national level, the current Liberal government got less than 40 per cent of the popular vote, but 54 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. P.E.I. has even seen one party, the Liberals, garner every single seat in the legislature in 1935 with only 58 per cent of the vote.
"We have these lopsided, one-party majority governments that make bad decisions," Fleming said. "And that's the reason to reform the system… it may be unfair but the reason to get rid of first past the post is that it just doesn't work, especially in small jurisdictions."
Islanders voted in a 2016 plebiscite in favour of a mixed-member proportional representation system, but after a voter turnout of only 36.46 per cent, the Liberal government decided not to act on it. Instead, Islanders are potentially headed to the polls in 2019 for both an election and a referendum on electoral reform and Fleming believes P.E.I. could be the impetus for other provinces to follow.
"If anyone has a shot at actually succeeding at implementing proportional representation, it's Prince Edward Island," Fleming said.
"If the issue of proportional representation takes off across Canada, then it will most likely be because Prince Edward Islanders did something about it."
Finally, a couple of years ago Ontario quietly updated legislation to allow municipalities to switch to a ranked ballot system. Naturally most municipalities (including Toronto despite initially being the leading city behind the movement) immediately chose to reject any reforms. After all, why risk your seat to a consensus candidate, especially when you may have only won your seat with just 17.38% of the vote (I'm looking at you, Councillor Greb!)
That being said, there was one municipality which decided to ditch FPTP; London Ontario will be holding elections via ranked ballots this year:
Given how difficult electoral reform has been, I'm acutally kind of amazed that they acutally went out and did it. While not perfect, ranked ballots are still a lot better than FPTP overall IMO, and in the Ontario municipal setting they would make more sense anyways as municipal politicans cannot form political parties. Should the referendums on proportional representation fail you may still see the gradual adoptiong of ranked balltos, at least at the municipal level.London gears up for Canada's first ranked ballot election
Municipalities will be watching London closely as it heads towards a Canadian first
City staffers are getting ready to hold mock elections to test the software and hardware required to run Canada's first ranked ballot municipal vote.
And others are looking at London as the city inches closer to the Oct. 22 election date.
"We are the focal point, not only for municipalities in Ontario, but also across Canada. They're watching," said city clerk Cathy Saunders, whose job is to quarterback the election and the new voting system.
"It's a Canadian first. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time."
The city has secured a vendor to run the vote and has warned that counting ballots might take longer than usual.
The vendor will supply the tabulators, which will be used to count the votes, as well as the software used to do so, Saunders said in an interview on CBC Radio's London Morning.
Saunders and her team will explain the ranked ballot system this Thursday to the Urban League of London at the Goodwill Centre at 7 p.m.
City staff will hold a few mock elections, where staff will use random names and randomly rank ballots to make sure everything is working with the tabulators and the software.
The fact that the city holds elections for school board trustees during the municipal election, and that those votes are not ranked, adds an "extra layer" to the process of tabulating the votes.
"The tabulators have to have specific software to allow the ballots to be tabulated and ranked," Saunders said.
How it works
In the current first-past-the-post system, the person who gets the highest percentage of votes wins.
In the new ranked ballot system, Londoners will mark their top three choices, in order of preference.
If one candidate doesn't have 50 per cent plus one of the votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the ballots are counted using the next candidate choice.
The process is repeated until a candidate with 50 per cent plus one is chosen.
Teaching and learning
Kingston and Cambridge have both been very interested in how things go in London, Saunders said.
There are also municipalities from Alberta and Nova Scotia asking questions about everything from what software the city is using — to how officials are trying to inform Londoners about how the vote works.
"Most of them ask us about our process, how we got a vendor, what challenges we have had and how we move forward," Saunders said.
City staffers are looking to Minneapolis, which has run a number of ranked ballot elections, for guidance. Already, London's advisory committees elect members using ranked ballots, Saunders said.
What will happen on election day?
There are about 200 polling stations in the city.
There will be a vote tabulator at each of the polls.
Londoners will rank the candidates on their ballots for ward councillor and for mayor. They'll insert their vote into the tabulator.
The tabulator reads and retains the information on the ballot until the end of the night.
When polls close, the tabulators are activated and the votes are counted.