(With Files From Cole Kelly-MyPGNow.com)
Should we change or not?
That’s the basic question that the electoral reform referendum is trying to answer, however, getting to that answer is a little more complicated.
The referendum will determine whether BC will continue using the First Past the Post system (FPTP) or switch to Proportional Representation (PR). There are three Proportional Representation systems, which voters will be asked to rank, including Dual Member Proportional, Mixed Member Proportional, and Rural-Urban Proportional.
Jason Morris, a lecturer in the UNBC Political Science Department, explained that with each of the PR systems on the ballot, voters don’t accurately know what representation look like because the new electoral districts and regions won’t be decided until after one of the PR options is voted for.
“When complicated math formulas are required for some of these relatively new PR systems, it’s certainly a challenge for even a political junkie that follows things a lot to fully appreciate,” said Morris.
“Since we have not had these systems before, the challenge would be not being able to anticipate the changes they might have in how we conduct our political activities in the province.”
Morris said that if understanding the electoral system is an important value and even a rationale for keeping the status quo, FPTP wins hands down.
“The disadvantages of the current electoral system are well known, that is it tends to produce governments that wield a lot of the power with often less than half of the vote.”
“But at the same time it’s the devil we do know, and there’s a lot of uncertainties and things to be decided should we vote to change to some version of proportional representation.”