Electoral reform: what are we afraid of?

None of the parties can truly claim to speak for a majority of voters in the province.

The only thing that’s clear after Tuesday’s votes were tallied in the provincial election is that we desperately need electoral reform.

Some will argue that first-past-the-post works great, or at least is as good as any other system. These folks will often also argue that we should just narrow our choices to a two-horse race and thus simplify things that way.

Except the problem with that is that clearly people want more than two choices (and we’d argue narrowing the field like that would be profoundly undemocratic, to boot.)

While we wait with bated breath to find out if we’re going to have a minority or majority Liberal government (absentee ballots and/or recounts could make a significant difference in several ridings, notably up-Island in Courtenay-Comox where just nine votes separate the two leading candidates), we hope the parties are seriously pondering these results and what the voters are telling them.

Namely, none of the parties can truly claim to speak for a majority of voters in the province.

While the NDP and Liberals won an almost equal number of seats, the Green Party, whose Sonia Furstenau took the Cowichan Valley riding, won just three. It’s an unprecedented number for the party, to be sure, but hardly indicative of the true amount of support the Greens garnered throughout the province.

Several years ago B.C. citizens voted in a referendum that only very narrowly defeated the introduction of a new, more proportional representation system called STV (single transferable vote). This system had been investigated and chosen by a randomly chosen Citizen’s Assembly, who felt it offered the best of the alternatives available. We cannot help but wonder what the results would have been had we been that bit more progressive.

At the very least it would have taken away the excuse from some of the non-voters that they don’t bother because their vote won’t count.

Which we certainly don’t find to be an acceptable excuse in any case. The only true way your vote doesn’t count is if you didn’t cast your ballot.

But there’s always another chance.

What are we afraid of?

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