British Columbians will soon have the opportunity to vote on whether the province should keep the current First Past the Post voting system or move to a system of proportional representation. If B.C. residents wish to change the current “first past the post” electoral model, they will have the liberty to vote for dual member, mixed member or rural-urban PR. The referendum will take place from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30.
Anyone who is a Canadian citizen, 18 years or older as of Nov. 30 and has been residing in British Columbia for at least six months immediately before Nov. 30 is eligible to vote in the referendum. B.C. residents need to be registered as such before Oct. 23 to receive a voting package in the mail.
According to Kole Lawrence, TRUSU campaigns committee member-at-large, the committee plans to do much tabling and encourage TRU students to vote for PR.
“The committee has scheduled around four days a week of tabling around the university, at those tables, they will be registering and making sure students can receive a voting package,” he said. “The campaigns committee unanimously voted in the students’ best interest to encourage voting for PR.”
In 2005 and 2009, British Columbians voted against the STV system. Now they will have a third opportunity to conclude their say on B.C. electoral reform. If this reform is implemented in B.C., it would be especially beneficial for less dominant political parties in B.C. to gain a more substantial presence in provincial politics.
The B.C. NDP and Green Party have long advocated for changing the current “first past the post” system; however, it could equally benefit parties such as the B.C. Conservative Party who have also endorsed electoral reform.
Andrew Sahaydak, president of the TRU Conservative Association, is still undecided on the matter, nevertheless he acknowledges the possibility of it helping the conservative party gain strength.
“I know a lot of federal conservatives are supportive of the reform,” he said. “There may be many people who may not have voted who will vote in this referendum, however, if it passes, I think the reform could boost seats for the B.C. Conservatives.”
A big determining factor, as mentioned by Sahaydak, will be the difference in voters since the last reform in 2009. It’s possible that many British Columbians will use this opportunity to assure a louder voice for their party in the next provincial election.
UPDATE: First sentence was changed to reflect that B.C. residents will vote to keep the First Past the Post voting system or move to proportional representation, not vote for or against the single transferable vote system (STV).