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Electoral referendum explained to Probus

Semiahmoo Peninsula club educates itself on the upcoming referendum

Before they cast their vote on the upcoming referendum on electoral reform, the Women’s Probus Club of White Rock and South Surrey invited a nonpartisan expert to explain what, exactly, they’re voting for.

Speaking to the club Oct. 3, Elections BC regional field officer Albert Wei said ballots and information on voting will be mailed to registered voters Oct. 22. The referendum on electoral reform takes place from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30.

As voting will be by mail, Wei advised members to ensure their completed ballots are mailed in sufficient time to reach Elections BC before the deadline of 4:30 p.m. on November 30, 2018.

The 2018 ballot question is in two parts. The first, explained Wei to Probus, asks voters to indicate which of two voting systems they prefer.

Wei explained each of the four voting options.

The first-past-the-post system, which is currently in use, sees the candidate with the most votes wins and becomes the sole member of the legislative assembly (MLA) for the riding.

A second second system is proportional representation, which is offered with three options.

For dual member proportionality (DMP), most electoral districts are combined with a neighbouring district and represented by two MLAs. First seat goes to the candidate who receives the most votes. Second seats go to parties, which distribute seats according to their share of the provincial vote. The largest rural districts continue to have one MLA, who is elected by winning the most votes.

DMP is a new system that never has been used.

For mixed member proportional (MMP), several neighbouring electoral districts are combined into one region. Each electoral district elects one district MLA using first-past-the-post. One Regional MLA is elected from a party list, so that each party’s share of seats in the legislature roughly matches its share of the province-wide vote.

MMP is used in Germany, New Zealand and Scotland.

Rural-urban proportional (RUP) combines two different proportional voting systems: MMP and single transferable vote (STV). Voters in urban and semi-urban districts use STV to elect multiple MLAs for their larger electoral districts. Voters in rural districts use MMP to elect district MLAs and regional MLAs. RUP has not been used as a single system.

STV used in Ireland, Australia, Malta.

“Those are top-line choices on the voters’ menu”, said Wei, who urged Probus members to visit for details on each system.

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About the Author: Aaron Hinks

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