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Eby unveils report and recommendations on electoral reform referendum

B.C. Attorney General David Eby. Photo by Government of B.C./Flickr
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VICTORIA, B.C. — B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby has released a report detailing the results of the government’s public engagement on electoral reform, which informed his 18 recommendations to cabinet for how the fall 2018 referendum should be structured.

Eby said that the public engagement drew 180,000 visits to the “How We Vote” website, with a record 91,725 questionnaires completed over the 14-week span of the campaign, which ended on February 28th. Another 1,101 questionnaires were completed by a panel selected to represent B.C.’s demographic mix to provide a base for comparison to the website respondents. Substantive written submissions were received by 46 organizations and 208 individuals.

Eby says that his report, which was released today, contains a comprehensive breakdown of results, and analysis of the recommendations by the attorney general.

“British Columbians made their voices and their values heard, and it was important we gave them the opportunity to direct how this referendum should work,” said Eby. “This input has provided us a firm footing for the recommendations I am putting forward to cabinet. While the engagement marked a first step in involving the public more meaningfully in our democratic process, ultimately, British Columbians, through the referendum, will determine how we vote in B.C.”

The attorney general’s recommendations to cabinet cover all aspects of the referendum taking place this fall, which will decide whether B.C. keeps its current First Past the Post voting system or moves to a system of proportional representation.

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The report recommends that the referendum ballot include two questions:

1. Which should British Columbia use for elections to the Legislative Assembly (Vote for only one.):

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  • The current First Past the Post voting system
  • A proportional representation voting system

2. If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following voting systems do you prefer? (Vote for the voting systems you wish to support by ranking them in order of preference. You may choose to support one, two or all three of the systems.):

  • Dual-Member Proportional
  • Mixed-Member Proportional
  • Rural-Urban Proportional

If a majority of responses to the first question vote to adopt a proportional representation voting system, then responses to the second question would determine which system is implemented in British Columbia. He said that if voters decide to adopt a proportional representation system, a second referendum be held following two general elections, where voters would decide to keep the new system or return to First Past the Post.

The report describes the three proportional representation systems to be included on the ballot, which correspond to the engagement with British Columbians. If a proportional system is adopted, it must include a set of features, including:

  • No significant increase in the size of the legislature.
  • No region of the province having fewer MLAs than it currently has.
  • No political party being eligible to receive a seat if they receive less than 5 percent of the overall vote in the province or region.

In his report, Eby recommends that the referendum campaign period should begin July 1st and end by November 30th. The referendum voting period (by mail-in ballot) would run October 22nd, to November 30th.

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