October 18, 2004
Assembly approves mixed-vote system
B.C. voters would cast ballots not just for MLAs
but also parties under reform plan
If B.C. adopts a new mixed-member proportional
voting system, 60 per cent of MLAs should be elected in
constituencies and the remainder would be drawn from each party's
list of candidates to roughly mirror a party's share of the popular
The 60-40 split was among the key decisions approved Sunday by the
Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, which has been meeting since
Jan. 10 to try to find a better voting system for provincial
elections in B.C.
The 160-member assembly spent most of its weekend session designing
a model mixed-member proportional (MMP) system, the election system
used in New Zealand, Germany and Scotland.
The assembly decided that if MMP was adopted, there would be two
votes on ballots -- one for a local constituency representative and
one for the preferred party. The party vote would be used to
determine a party's share of seats.
If a party, for example, won 25 per cent of the popular vote but
only a few constituency seats, then its share of seats would be
"topped up" from a party's list of candidates.
The assembly decided party list candidateswould be drawn from each
region and be "open" lists -- that is, voters would be
able to rank candidates numerically on the list. New Zealand uses
"closed" lists, where the order of candidates is decided
by the parties, not voters.
Citizens' assembly members also decided a party would need at least
three per cent of the popular vote to get any "list
During its next weekend session on Oct. 23 and 24 at the Wosk Centre
for Dialogue in Vancouver, the assembly is expected to decide
whether to retain our current first-past-the-post election system or
to recommend a new system.
If it decides to recommend a new system, the assembly has narrowed
its choice to two alternatives: MMP and the single transferable vote
(STV) system, which is used in Irish national elections.
If the assembly recommends changing the electoral system, the
recommendation will be put to voters in a referendum during the next
provincial election in May 2005. If voters endorse change, a new
system would be in place for the 2009 provincial election.
On Sunday, a public observer, John Allen West of Hornby Island,
shouted at assembly members after they voted against his proposal to
add "none of the above" (NOTA) to ballots.
"This is an illegal operation," West yelled after the
assembly voted 102 to 35 against his proposal. "I'm appalled by
your lack of courage."
West has been lobbying for 10 years to have NOTA added to ballots.
He believes government could be formed by randomly selecting
citizens, eliminating the need for political parties.