The reaction from electoral reform opponents to Attorney General David Eby’s report was as swift as predictable: “The deck is stacked!” and “it’s too complicated!” But is that really true? We find it normal that governments make many important decisions without holding a referendum, but now that we, the voters get to make the decision, the deck is somehow stacked? Really?
The first referendum question will simply ask us whether we want to keep our current system, or move to a more proportional system. That is no more complicated than deciding which shoe goes on which foot.
The second referendum question gives us the opportunity to express our preference between three voting systems. All three systems contain the principles which we find important: a local representative, more proportional election results, having (almost) all our votes count, a threshold of 5% to keep out fringe parties, no loss of regional representation, and little or no increase in the number of politicians or the cost of elections.
BC had multi member ridings in our history before 1990, when the last dual riding was abolished (without a referendum), so the Dual Member Proportional (DMP) system is not really new to B.C.
The Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system would give us one vote for a local candidate, much like what we have now, plus a second vote for a regional candidate. Is that so complicated?
The Rural/Urban system proposes to use different voting systems in rural and urban areas because the Single Transferable Vote (STV) voting system works well when combining small urban ridings, but doesn’t translate to some of our already gigantic rural ridings, which instead would use the MMP system.
Much information is coming our way, and we have six whole months before we vote in November to find a little time to look at these three systems, any of which could work just fine in BC. Then, should we decide for a new system, there will be a second referendum after two elections in which we can decide to go back to our current system.
This is about our democracy, about how we choose our governments and we are very lucky, because we, the voters get to make the decisions every step of the way. Considering the many benefits which introducing proportionality in our voting system could bring, a little effort to get informed is a small price to pay.