Another Issue in the Upcoming Election for Non-Decided Voters to Sink Their Teeth Into

March 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

In a previous post, I drew your attention to the issue of Increasing the Minimum Wage. The Globe and Mail reports that the Provincial Liberals have taken the position that “now is not the time to impose hundreds of millions in new costs on small businesses through an increased minimum wage that will mean more job losses, will depress job creation and will hurt those it purports to help.” Meanwhile, The NDP would raise the minimum wage, given the chance, to $10 an hour – the amount recommended by the B.C. Federation of Labour. With a provincial election approaching, there is at least one issue on which the two major parties have taken a clear opposing stance.

Now there is another issue which is not as easy to wrap your head around as increasing minimum wage, but which may help undecided voters decide which party to support. From The Westender:

The May 12 provincial election is now three months away, and voters will have more responsibility than in previous elections. They will determine the results of a referendum item that could, if passed, drastically change B.C.’s electoral process. Already used in Ireland, Malta, and Tasmania, the single-transferable vote (STV) allows voters to preferentially rank candidates on a ballot — which, supporters say, could make for fairer, more diverse representation of voters’ choices and create a more moderate, consensus-driven system of government. Opponents say the opposite would occur.

I’ll admit that is kind of a wonky issue, but choosing between STV and Winner Take All voting really does affect the average person’s life.

For example, minority governments are more common with the STV system of voting (source: one, two, and three). A few years ago that might have seemed scary, but we’ve had minority governments on the Federal Level for some time now and in my opinion it’s worked out well. The ruling party has had to seek compromise with the opposition. For example, in May of 2005 the Federal NDP supported the Minority Liberal Government’s budget in exchange for major amendments. The wishes of more Canadians were represented in that budget; there was greater democracy.

Now you already now about the Winner Take All AKA First Past the Post voting system. It’s the one that we use in BC and Canada right now. In each riding, the winner is the person with the most votes, even if the number of votes is less than 50%.

A common criticism of this system is the issue of wasted votes. That’s the issue that really catches my attention, and in my opinion it’s a good reason to consider the Single Transferable Vote.

So perhaps you’re wondering, just what the frack is STV anyways Moose? Consider checking out Frequently Asked Questions About First-Past-the-Post and BC-STV.

The following anaology comes from Accurate Democracy:

Each candidate puts out a box. A voter puts his ballot in his favorite candidate’s box. The ballots are counted. If the box gets enough ballots, it wins. If not, the voter moves his ballot to another candidate’s box. Or, he waits, hoping others will move their ballots to his favorite box. To break that deadlock, we have a rule: If a round of counting ballots finds no winner, the box with the fewest votes is eliminated. Its ballots go to each voter’s next (2nd) choice — probably someone with similar views and more popularity.

There are links to many examples an explanations at the Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform, including some clever little animations to make the whole things more real and less head-hurty. Click on the image to go to that page:

I did my best to remain objective while writing this post. FAIL! I suppose you can guess that I do support STV and I hope that you’ll consider supporting it too. But what I really wanted to do was let you know that there are significant differences between what the provincial parties what to do, and so your vote really could make a difference in May. I know it can be mentally exhausting to keep up with the issues, but I’ll try to help. Good luck to all of us.

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