Working toward a fairer electoral system
Published September 26th 2006 in The Abbotsford News

Sep 26 2006


The Electoral Boundaries Commission tour may sound like a yawner, but it could be very interesting and important this time around.


The commission will be conducting its usual work of examining possible redistribution of the province’s 79 ridings. In addition to that, though, it will also be looking at how multi-member ridings would look under a possible Single Transferable Vote system.


Coming up with two electoral maps in time for the 2009 provincial election is a tall order for the commission, which is chaired by B.C. Supreme Court Judge Bruce Cohen.


The concept of STV proved popular in a referendum with the May 2005 election, as 58 per cent of voters endorsed it province-wide. Premier Gordon Campbell initially proposed to hold a second referendum in time to adopt STV for the 2009 election if it was endorsed by voters, but that plan was scrapped in favour of holding the referendum in conjunction with the 2009 election.


Under STV, voters choose first, second and subsequent choices in a multi-member riding. Once their first choice has enough support to be elected, votes can be transferred to other choices.


The call for a more proportional voting system has been voiced for years in this province. In 1996, the Liberals won the popular vote but the NDP won the most seats, to form a majority government.


In 2001, the tables were drastically turned when the Liberals won 77 seats, but with a relatively small majority of votes.


The aim of the single transferable voting system is to create a fairer system. The crux of whether it accomplishes that, particularly in the rural areas, lies in how the new ridings are drawn.


The cookie-cutter approach, adhering strictly to a population target, does not work in rural areas. Hopefully Justice Cohen and the commission will take that into account when they redraw the electoral map.


The Prince George Free Press