Who said voting can't be fair?

British Columbia's next referendum on electoral reform is scheduled for May 12, 2009 - almost three years away. But those supporting the single transferable vote system aren't waiting till the last minute to get their campaign underway. Fair Voting BC is presently planning to organize a conference in support of that effort immediately following Ontario's October 2007 electoral reform referendum. Activists from across the province will be invited to attend that conference, which will be held in Vancouver.

9 Comments

They're obviously missing something.

Single Transferrable Balloting doesn't mean explicity mean multiple member ridings. They are advocating the recommended Irish model which does use multiple member ridings and STV, but..

The State of Victoria (Australia) does use STV in the election of their State MLA's, but each constituency in the State of Victoria for their lower house (legislature) has only one MLA per riding.

It would make things alot less complicated for the voter and parties if the STV was to use single member ridings, but an STV / Preferrential ballot system (similar to what was done in 1952 in B.C.

The big problem with the multiple member ridings is that you would have 3 Liberals along with 2 NDPers. Who actually represents the riding? Is there one constituency office or 3? Is there one constituency office or 2 (one Liberal and one NDP)?

If there was STV, but one would vote for first choice, second, third, and so on, and the votes counted until just one person was declared, then things would be alot less complicated.

As it stands on the basis of this recommendation of the Irish model, I would vote No.

The voting system that Vivian describes is generally not referred to as STV. It is a majoritarian system called "Alternative Vote" (the other majoritarian systems are First-Past-the-Post/Single Member Plurality, Multi-Member Plurality and two-ballot/run-off elections).
STV is a proportional system. Characterizing AV as STV is one of my biggest pet peeves. Argh!

"The voting system that Vivian describes is generally not referred to as STV. It is a majoritarian system called "Alternative Vote" (the other majoritarian systems are First-Past-the-Post/Single Member Plurality, Multi-Member Plurality and two-ballot/run-off elections).
STV is a proportional system. Characterizing AV as STV is one of my biggest pet peeves. Argh!"

Sorry sweetheart, it isn't.

What the State of Victoria uses is a full preferential system (their term) to elect members of its State Assembly. A different system is used to elect Senators (are you reading out there federal Liberals?). The State of Victoria concluded its 2006 State elections in November.
Labour (the equivalent of our NDP) won again the
government.

The full course of description can be found here:

http://www.vec.vic.gov.au/votingsystems.html#statelh

They elect *one* member for *one* electoral district.

If you think the State of Victoria is wrong, well
send the Electoral Commission an email.

The concept of STV is good, but the deliverance of it is really out of whack. There's no required
need in B.C. to have multiple member ridings, since small sized electoral districts will work better than large fiefdoms dominated by one power MLA over the others.

So what happens in Vancouver? Who ends up being
the real dominant MLA amongst the 10 that are elected? Where's the office going to be? How is it going to be staffed?

What a mess that STV proposal is going to be if it comes to pass.

Hurrah to the geeks of the world for they shall inherit...a lump of coal so that all the air occupying the empty space in their cranium gets filled up.

What a joke this whole STV propaganda has become. What's wrong with the current electoral system in British Columbia that we need to change it with such drama? I have read a great deal about this proposal and have found nothing even remotely close to persuasive. Would you put a stent into an otherwise healthy heart? Of course not. You wouldn't put one into even a moderately healthy one. Is our system perfect, no. But does it require such a fundamental shift? No, again.

I wonder at which point the geeks and wonks will actually have the balls (and brains) to challenge Canada's electoral system, that has needed a change forever and a day! Now that would be trail-blazing. But then again, most of the wonks are the secular progressive ilk that think that the Liberal Party of Canada are "the natural governing party". Well, here's a news flash: if we changed the federal system and made things equitable for British Columbia, Alberta and the Martimes alone, you would never see such a long string of Liberal victories or a cadre of useless NDP MP's (I know, redundant). Look at Dion the dunce and the rest of them: they know they stand more than a fighting chance when all they have to do is be Quebec's bitch and kowtow to Ontario's "Tarana" corridor. Meanwhile, we continue to get screwed in B.C., but that's okay because the Kelowna Accord is a "good deal" and it will help us with our collective soul. Pass the Sominex please.

Pathetic.

I would have no problem with turning our 36 federal seats into provincial seats as Harris did in Ontario, and then electing another 50 people according to proportional representation. That to me would be a sensible compromise between the need to maintain some geographic representation, and at the same time make the overall system fairer and more representative of smaller parties.

For the larger parties, it would also allow them to avoid seeing their Leader or other major Cabinet ministers defeated in their riding, or having to spend lots of time campaigning there rather than touring the province carrying the party's main platform message.

If we are not going to do that, let's stick with the system we have and expand the Legislature to 85 seats. I hope we can at least become as progressive as Alberta, where recognizing the needs of not only geographic, but of immigrant and Aboriginal populations as well is an expressed criteria, recognized in statute, to be considered when setting electoral district boundaries.

Personally, I believe the STV and other electoral reform enthusiasts (zealots in some cases?) have become unduly pre-occupied with the impact of various voting systems on political parties, and are overlooking more basic considerations, such as geography and fundamental demographics.

Preferential balloting can exist for a single member district or a multi member district.

When it is a single member district, it is a majoritarian system as we have now in BC and does is not a proportional system.

With multi-member districts a preferential voting system becomes a proportional system.

AV and STV are related because of the preferential nature of the ballot, but so are First Past the Post and MMP because of the single X on the ballot.

We have a major public policy problem in Canada with how we elected people to govern. The nature or our current system is at best a bad reflection of public will and in most cases misses it by a lot. Our system has devolved in the worst of a "vote the bastards out" that is out there. Rarely are any of out politicians elected because we want them, normally we want to get rid of the sitting politician. For good public policy this is horror.

For a government to govern well it has to have a sense of a mandate to act. Mandates come from a public support of a program and not a vote against an existing government. We need an electoral system that gives a government a clear support for its program through a positive vote for their program.

We also have a problem with the public's unhappiness with the choices they have on the ballot. Too many people feel they have to vote for the lesser of two evils. As soon as this happens on any scale, the type and form of governments that arrise out the process are automatically 'wrong'. We need an electoral system where people can feel heard when they vote and know that they can truly express their opinion and not help the ones they really dislike by accident.

We have a problem when most politicians are elected because of the party they are with and not because of who they are. Our current system gives the public now choice who they have to vote for from any given party in their riding. Many people are elected that the public would really have not preferred to have seen elected. We need an electoral system that gives the voter choice of who they support from the party of their choice.

Our current system also suffers from the fact that in most election only 10 to 20% of the ridings are actually competitive. It is a very bad for any electoral process when the outcomes will be the same whether a person votes or not. Our electoral system needs make all ridings have some degree of competitiveness to them in all elections.

I am realistic, I know that in the context of the current system in Canada my vote is pointless because I have very few real choices I can make that will have any impact on how I am governed.

It seems to me many of the STV proponents last go-around at this, had a special hate on for political parties of all stripes.

Time after time, in discussions, these people claimed STV would take political power away from parties and give it back to the people. Ya, sure and a turkey for every pot as well.
It makes me wonder if the entire convoluted process wasn't simply a conspiracy of numbers nerds (centred at UBC), who wanted revenge for having been told to screw off or go erect a lawn sign or anything but offer more political advice to campaign teams who realize you don't get votes from ordinary people by confusing them.
As noted above by Vivian, this current scheme to have up to five MLAs in one riding will simply mean if you are on the winning side and end up in cabinet you will get to play Boss Hog and tilt the port barrel where-ever you see an advantage.

Alex, I hope your descriptions of pathetic refer to the state of our federal system and not to the efforts of reformists. We're pushing federally as well, via Fair Voting Canada.

The concept behind STV and Fair Voting is based on two ideas:

1) Should political systems be fair to the party establishment or to the votes. We believe that voters deserve to have them representation that meets their desires. Not only should the break down of first preferences count, but by adding 2nd and 3rd we can look at their whole intention and see if their vote was based on the party, the person, the issues.

2) Should representation be based on geographic or demographic needs? Our answer is that in a non homogenous 20th century society such as BC (or Canada) our system needs to represent different income levels, family status, ethnical backgrounds, religious, and social needs. By having single member ridings you can do little to guarantee that people in a riding have a representative who they can relate, or that the various needs or voices in a region can be raised in parliamentary discussion.

That other systems can achieve these goals is possible, but we find that STV has its quirks it also seems when running electoral scenarios to best satisfy the criteria. For us geeks, we see it as the Quantum Theory of Voting, in that while there is nothing explicit to say that result are guaranteed to be proportional or will guarantee geographical, it ends up taking voters choices and distributing them in such a way the results are the ones that are most fair. People aren't all partisan, its the same way we see Vancouver Elect 3 political parties to council, because they love the idea of having mixed representation and representatives.

"2) Should representation be based on geographic or demographic needs? Our answer is that in a non homogenous 20th century society such as BC (or Canada) our system needs to represent different income levels, family status, ethnical backgrounds, religious, and social needs. By having single member ridings you can do little to guarantee that people in a riding have a representative who they can relate, or that the various needs or voices in a region can be raised in parliamentary discussion."


A good MLA would be able to achieve that, and have done so sucessfully in the past.

There cannot be one represenative for one income level and another for another income level in the same riding as eventually the two will have to converge on government decisions, and then what?

That other systems can achieve these goals is possible, but we find that STV has its quirks it also seems when running electoral scenarios to best satisfy the criteria. For us geeks, we see it as the Quantum Theory of Voting, in that while there is nothing explicit to say that result are guaranteed to be proportional or will guarantee geographical, it ends up taking voters choices and distributing them in such a way the results are the ones that are most fair. "

That may be the problem. Too much emphasis on academia when the studies have already been done and completed, and not focusing on what is actually practical, the deliverance of sound represenation to the people.

The other aspect that is missing is of course the partisan level. Who decides who gets to be a candidate? The larger constituent membership? Does the cnadidate migate to his or her comfort part of the riding? What about power plays?

The mess that is seen in multiple member nominations at the civic level will go to the provincial level, and I can see a time when a very good community minded person can easily get bumped off in a multiple member seat race at the nomination level, simply because of power.

Then there's the aspect of how the services are delviered. One office or two? One MLA per office or all of them. All Liberal or all NDP or the mix?

Multiple members from two different parties are not going to work together to deliver things to the riding. It's not like working with Vision Vcr and the NPA or COPE and the NPA.

it's going to be a mess pure and simple.

Best way is just to keep the single member ridings, adjust the geography of the boundaries and if it's really wanted, a full propotional ballot.

or just forget the ballot and keep the single member in adjusted ridings.

the voter isn't going to care about what academia or the geeks think.

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