Two questions recommended for British Columbians in electoral reform referendum


Attorney General David Eby announces the two questions B.C. residents will choose in fall referendum on proportional representation.

Attorney General David Eby announces the two questions B.C. residents will choose in fall referendum on proportional representation.

British Columbians currently cast ballots in British Columbia in what’s called First-Past-the-Post system. The candidate with the most votes wins. But the Green and NDP parties campaigned in 2017 during the provincial election on a promise to hold a referendum on whether or not to change the current system.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby revealed two questions he is recommending to the provincial cabinet for British Columbians to vote on in a referendum on electoral reform later this year.  “The referendum legislation passed last fall requires that the result of the referendum is binding on government, and therefore, voters will know that if a majority support moving to proportional representation, one of the three voting models on the ballot will be adopted,” Eby said.

The recommended questions are:

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

* The current First Past the Post voting system

* A proportional representation (PR) 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 (DMP)

* Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)

* Rural-Urban PR

But BC’s Liberal leader, Andrew Wilkinson, said the questions are confusing.

“This is turning out to be alphabet soup with they are proposing a whole bunch of systems that no-one has ever heard of, and it’s an attempt to confuse, and manipulate British Columbians away from the democracy that we so value,” Wilkinson said.

The recommendations are in a report Eby released Wednesday based on results of public engagement on electoral reform.

The 106-page report includes a recommendation for a referendum campaign starting July 1.

The report advises a referendum voting period, where ballot packages are distributed and returned, takes place between Oct. 22 and Nov. 30.

The referendum will be by mail-in ballot.

B.C.’s Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman said an education campaign component will be added to the Elections B.C. website once the campaign begins, July 1st.

“The focus of the campaign period will be on making sure voters know when, and how to vote. Make sure the process is as inclusive,and accessible to all participants,” Boegman said.

Over 14 weeks of public engagement, the “How We Vote” website received 180,000 visits with 91,725 questionnaires completed.

Eby suggests referendum advertising sponsors have an expense limit of $200,000 during the campaign period.

The reports also recommend designated referendum opponent and proponent groups get $500,000 in public funding to stimulate interest and debate on the ballot choices.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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