STV system explained

  • May. 8, 2009 9:00 a.m.

The Single Transferable Vote system could make voting slightly more complicated and will definitely make counting the ballots convoluted. But it will also reflect citizens’ choices more accurately, lessen the power of political parties, and lead to better debate and fewer political attacks. That’s what retired professor and self-described “democracy junkie” Andre Carrel told a small group in Masset Monday night (May 4). Mr. Carrel gave a presentation on the benefits of the Single Transferable Vote system, or STV, which British Columbians will be voting on in a referendum May 12. “The system we have now is a system imposed on us when we were a colony,” Mr. Carrel said. It’s also a system that leads to governments that don’t truly reflect the intentions of the voters. For example, he said, in the last election a minority of British Columbians voted for the Liberals – yet that party formed a majority and has governed for the past four years. The same thing has happened with the NDP. The STV system would allow people to vote for more than one candidate by ranking candidates according to their preference. Voters would rank candidates with a number 1, number 2, number 3 and so on. Ridings would be changed so there are less of them and each riding would have from two to seven MLAs representing it. (Our new riding would be called “northwest” and would elect three representatives.) The actual mechanism of STV vote counting is complex and after a brief discussion of it, Mr. Carrel said people should focus on what an STV system will achieve rather than the technicalities. Mr. Carrel said our current way of electing governments – the “first past the post” system – makes it easy to count the votes and determine the winner, and is the system most likely to produce a majority government. But, “the majority elected under FPTP rarely represents the majority of the electorate – more often than not it represents only the plurality, in other words, the largest minority,” he said. “Such an assembly falls short of democracy’s principles because it tempts governments to serve the interests of a minority.” Under the STV system, if 40 percent of the electorate voted Liberal, 40 percent voted NDP, and 20 percent voted NDP, the makeup of the MLAs in the Legislature would reflect that 40-40-20 split. After the election is over, those parties will have to work together in order to govern. And that’s a good thing, Mr. Carrel said. “Every party will eventually have to listen to what the other parties are saying,” he said. “Every party will have to look at its own policies and determine what aspects of its policies it may be willing to amend, expand, modify, or drop to make its policies acceptable to at least one other political party.” Mr. Carrel also told voters not to worry about the size of the ridings under STV. Northern ridings are already relatively large, and some people are concerned because STV would make them even bigger. “I urge those who are concerned about enlarged constituencies to keep in mind that we have more than geographic divisions in this province,” he said. “We have an urban/rural divide, a youth-senior divide, a labour/management divide, an employee/self-employed divide, and many more social, economic and cultural divides in this province,” he said. “Those voters in the northwest who support comprehensive day care programs and affordable housing have more in common with people in the Fraser Valley who support these same policy objectives than they do with other voters in the northwest who would rather see the role of government reduced, taxes cut and public services privatized.” British Columbians have voted on the STV question before. In 2005, a majority of voters said yes, but it was just less than the 60 percent which the government had decided would be needed to change. During this provincial election, voters will have the chance once again, but Mr. Carrel warned that this will probably be the last time. “If we don’t make 60 this time, put it in the history books, it’s not going to happen,” he said. More information about STV and how it works is available at www.stv.ca

Just Posted

Fire ban back in effect for Northwest Fire Centre region

Starting May 24, both Category 2 and Category 3 prohibitions will be in place

This summer Masset RCMP will give positive tickets to youths

More than a dozen community partners are involved in encouraging good behaviour once school is out

New Seven Sisters replacement confirmed

Mental health facility will have 25 beds, up from 20 in current facility

Terrace hospital’s business plan approved

Health Minister’s announcement opens door to construction phase

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parent’s cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Most Read