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British Columbians Get Ready to Vote on Choice Voting

by Amy Ngai // Published April 29, 2009

On May 12th, British Columbians will head to the polls to vote on a provincial referendum regarding the way they elect members to the Legislative Assembly. The two options are 1) The existing electoral system (known as First-Past-The-Post or the single-member district system) or 2) The choice voting (locally termed single transferable vote electoral system, locally termed BC-STV) which is a proportional voting system.

Leading the campaign in support of the change is British Columbians for BC-STV, an ad-hoc group of reformers from Fair Vote Canada (not affiliated with FairVote in the United States) and former members of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform. The Citizens' Assembly was formed in 2004 to assess electoral reform and is made up of 160 ordinary voters who spent eleven months mastering the issue. Based on the three basic values of fair results, effective representation and increased voter choice, the assembly recommended overwhelmingly to support choice voting.

This isn't the first time British Columbians have voted on this issue; in May 2005, followoing the Citizens' Assembly recommendations, a 58% majority of voters cast their ballot in support of BC-STV but narrowly missed the supermajority requirement of 60%. For the May 12th referendum, proponents will have to once again earn over 60% overall approval and a simple majority in 60% of the provincial electoral districts.

This Friday, FairVote's Board Chair Krist Novoselic will be participating in a forum on BC-STV in Vancouver. For more information about the campaign or for ways to get involved please visit: www.stv.ca