Okay. Stick with me, people. We are about to tackle electoral reform.
Hey, don’t stop reading!
This isn’t as boring as you think it is, and it actually matters for your voice in democracy!
I may be facing a wave of confusion and disinterest,
but I am ready to lead you through unscathed.
I am extremely passionate about this subject.
I have actively researched electoral reform for many years, even stretching back to when I was a young teenager. Throughout my life, I have held very different political opinions as I have continued to learn and grow. I have found myself in a variety of places on the political spectrum, and yet my views on electoral reform have always remained the same.
I value a fair and equal government that serves all of it’s people, regardless of who they are. I believe that all people deserve to have a voice representing them, and currently with FPTP, that doesn’t happen very much at all.
Side note: This is meant to be entirely non-partisan. I consider it to be impossible for me to be biased about this subject, and eventually I will explain why.
Alright, here we go!
For those of you in BC, there’s a referendum that has already begun on whether or not to switch our voting system from First-Past-The-Post (referred to as FPTP) to Proportional Representation (referred to as PR). For anyone else, don’t worry! This is still relevant to your democratic rights, and is something that we should all care about.
One of my main resources that I would like to get out there is this independent quiz. Please take this quiz to see where you stand on this issue.
I’d like to begin by sharing a perfect explanation of our current system, and what’s wrong with it. Video is courtesy of CGP Grey.
Now that you know what our current system is, and the problems it brings, we can move on to a description of what Proportional Representation is, and what it does.
- Balance of Power
Now let’s turn this into a real world scenario. Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals. Under FPTP, they received 39.47% of the total votes cast in the last election, and they currently have 100% of the power in government. Does that seem fair to you?60.53% of people who voted did NOT vote for our Prime Minister and his party, and yet it doesn’t matter, because his party won the majority of ridings, and that’s that.
Now here’s the reason I say I can’t be biased in this topic. I voted for Trudeau and the Liberals. I am happy that they won, but I absolutely HATE that they won a majority with only 39.47% of the votes. That’s ridiculous to me.
39.47% is not a majority of citizens by any means.
All the current system does is make the majority of citizens incredibly unhappy about whoever is in power, ALWAYS. While complaining won’t go away, it will definitely be reduced when people realize that their vote counts much more than before.
The definition of Proportional Representation is “an electoral system in which parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them”
That means if your party receives 30% of the votes, then they get 30% of the seats.
Simple as that. Seems fair right?
For those of you who learn visually, here’s a quick graphic of what FPTP looks like in practicality:
- Strategic Voting
Everybody I have discussed this with can easily remember the times that they have had to vote for someone they didn’t actually want to vote for, just to make sure the person they really hated didn’t get into power. This is called strategic voting, and it is one of the dumbest things in an election.It makes no sense that you should have to bend your own personal morals, ethics, and beliefs to vote for someone you actually don’t agree with and don’t like. FPTP causes confusing dilemmas like this to voters.I believe that everyone should do their own research, form their own opinions, get passionate about what they support, and then vote for the person who best represents that. You should always vote for the person you want to win. With Proportional Representation, you can do that, and your vote will matter so much more than it does now!
- Working togetherFrom the beginning of our lives, our parents have taught us to play nice with others and share. Why does that need to stop in politics? Why do we suddenly want everything for ourselves and nothing for anyone else?Here’s a scenario I think we are all familiar with: A majority government passes multiple things into law. Tax breaks, refunds, changes to social programs, etc., and then when a different party gets elected, they will often just undo all those same things that were just changed. This leads to a country that is constantly in turmoil, trying to enact and recall changes from year to year, forever, and nothing really gets accomplished.
I think that we should all be working together to advance our society and the country that we love. We should do away with majority governments, let minorities and coalitions come together and develop an amazing country that we can all be proud of, and making sure that the changes made are actually supported by the majority of citizens.
With Proportional Representation, the issues and causes you care about are more likely to get advanced, even if your party isn’t the ruling party. Currently, you’d have no chance of that if it went against what the governing party stands for.
Working together does NOT mean that nothing will get accomplished, because everybody is still held accountable by their constituents.
Compromise is a good thing. You do it in daily life and relationships.
Why not government?
- Trial PeriodIf you choose to give electoral reform a try, and you absolutely hate it, don’t worry! You won’t be stuck with it forever. BC’s Attorney General has legislated that if the referendum passes, it will only be in place for 2 election cycles, which means if you hate it, it can easily be tossed aside. I think this is definitely a good reassurance for many of you who are hesitant to try something different.
- Referendum QuestionsWhen you receive your referendum ballot in the mail, it has two questions on it. As quoted from Elections BC:
The first question asks if we should keep the current First Past the Post voting system or move to a system of proportional representation.
The second question asks voters to rank three proportional systems: Dual Member Proportional (DMP), Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), and Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)
It’s important to know that you don’t have to answer both questions for your ballot to be counted. If you aren’t sure, you do not have to answer question number 2!
There we go. We’ve pretty much made it through most of the main facts. You need to know that I am incredibly willing to discuss and answer questions from anyone about anything. I hope I have done a decent job at explaining with Proportional Representation is, and if you find yourself confused about something or wondering about anything that I didn’t cover, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email!
Now if you’d like to be informed on all the 3 systems of PR that are in this referendum, feel free to visit these links and study up. There’s plenty of information out there! I’ve also provided a handy chart that was produced by the Fraser Institute.
Make sure to have your ballot mailed in by November 30!