Probably the most unsettling thing about the referendum on proportional representation is that only 2.5 per cent of eligible voters had cast their ballot by the time the leaders’ debate between John Horgan and Andrew Wilkinson took place last week.
Considering the official campaign period kicked-off on July 1st – over four months ago — it is safe to say that public interest in electoral reform has not set the province on fire. Perhaps the leaders’ debate will prompt people to at least start thinking about the referendum before the deadline of November 30th (all mail-in ballots must be received by Elections B.C. by that date), but it does raise the prospect that voter turnout could be extremely low.
The results of this referendum will only be considered legitimate if enough people participate. If only a few per cent of the population are able to fundamentally change our democratic system for the entire province, we could be in for a rough ride. This scenario is not out of the realm of possibility. Attorney general David Eby deliberately set no minimum threshold for participation, setting the stage for a very small percentage voters to determine the way governments are elected in B.C.
If public polls are to be believed, support for and against proportional representation is evenly divided. So let’s say a total of ten per cent of all eligible voters send in their ballot, a little more than five per cent could carry the day. Yes, five percent of BC voters could determine our future! This could plunge the province into a crisis where half the population no longer has any faith in our democratic system.
If this were a simple Yes or No referendum question, then people could possibly accept a clear result. But this ballot is far from simple. The only way to prevent confusion and uncertainty is to fill out that ballot and make your vote count. I am confident that people in Peace River North care – please, contact your family and friends and make sure that they participate in this very important referendum! Call ten people and ask them to do the same to get people out to vote! We must come out in full force! This referendum will be won or lost be a couple of thousand votes I suspect.
If we don’t have a good showing, someone else is going to determine how the province is ruled.