Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Low Voter Turnout - SHAME BC!

I am still a bit dumbfounded that people didn't vote for themselves yesterday with BC-STV. But I am even more upset that the voter turnout hovered around 50%.

What is wrong with people? Don't you think that your voice matters? In Delta South 2 (TWO!!) votes separates the Liberals and an independent. TWO F&*KING VOTES!!!! Your voice mattered in South Delta.

But more importantly if you felt that your vote didn't matter then why didn't you vote to change the electoral system? You could have only voted in the referendum. You didn't have to vote for any candidate.

Now we have 8% of the population who voted for the Green Party but they will be unrepresented in the legislature. I should say that I did not vote Green - nor have I ever voted Green. But that doesn't mean that I don't believe those people should have their ideals represented in government.

So a big BOO HISS to everyone who didn't vote. And another BOO HISS to the voters that couldn't be bothered to vote for themselves with BC - STV.

I believe in Electoral Reform and I believe that it will be debated again.

A letter from Steve

I'm a bit lost for words so I thought that I would publish Steve's letter to The Vancouver Sun.

'While the STV supporters failed to convince the voters of
the efficacy of proportional representation those in power
got what they want by 1) demonizing stv as something
that it is not and 2) convincing the voters that accountability
and hope for a more democratic future rest with the
tried and the failed, rather than the untried and the unknown.
Ironically the very thing that STV would have enhanced,
voter turnout, continued its woeful performance.
Congratulations may be in order to the scaremongers of
of the world; but I wonder if deep down anyone can
be happy with results that will never let us know if
STV would have worked. As well, a main factor in the
demise of STV seems to be that people refused to
"understand" it. In the end, in a democracy, who is
responsible for determining how to vote.
The government? StV proponents? or the voters.

Steven Faraher-Amidon'

Monday, May 11, 2009

STV Counting Explained

Members of the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral
Reform have recommended BC adopt BC-STV for
future elections because it is a system in tune with
the values of a great many British Columbians.

BC-STV is fair because it produces
proportional results, it provides voters with
more choice and more control, and it
strengthens local representation. BC-STV is
designed to make every vote count.

BC-STV basics
· There are fewer ridings, each electing between
two and seven MLAs – depending on the
population of the riding. Because each riding
elects a number of MLAs, over-all results are
more proportional – that is, each party’s share
of seats in the riding reflects its share of votes.
· Generally, parties will put forward more than
one candidate in each riding – giving voters
more options.
· BC-STV does not change the number of
MLAs province-wide or the number of MLAs
representing each region.
· BC-STV ballots allow you to vote by ranking
candidates (1, 2, 3, etc).
· If your vote is not needed to elect your first
choice candidate, it can be transferred to the
candidate you marked on the ballot as your
second preference – and so on.
· BC-STV is designed to ensure vote counting
can be accurately checked and replicated.
· It is also designed to use ballot papers that can
be counted by hand or by machine.

Counting the ballots
Calculating the quota
To win a seat in the legislature, a candidate must
receive a minimum number of votes – called a
quota. This quota is calculated using the number
of valid ballots cast in the riding as well as the
number of MLAs to be elected in that riding.

Number of valid ballots in riding
Quota =
Number of MLAs in riding + 1 + 1

Counting first preferences
After the polls close, all valid ballots are sorted
and counted according to the first-preference
candidate marked on each.

Eliminating candidates
If no candidate has the minimum number of
votes (quota) needed to be elected, the candidate
with the fewest votes is eliminated.

All of the eliminated candidate’s votes are then
redistributed to the second-preference candidates
as marked on each ballot.

Transferring surpluses
It is rare for an elected candidate to gain exactly
the quota of votes required to be elected.
Successful candidates usually receive more
votes than needed to win a seat. Since these
surplus votes are not needed to elect the
candidate, they could be considered wasted.

But, because BC-STV is designed to make as
many votes as possible count fully and fairly,
these surplus votes are redistributed. But which
votes should be selected to redistribute?

To be fair and to ensure vote counting can be
precisely repeated, every ballot cast for the
newly elected candidate is redistributed to the
next-ranked candidate marked on each ballot.
But, not at full value, because a portion of each
vote has already been used to elect a candidate.

The portion of each vote used to give the elected
candidate a quota, stays with that candidate. The
unused portion is transferred. To determine
what fraction of the vote should move on to the
next preference, the transfer value is calculated.

Candidate’s surplus votes
Transfer Value =
Candidates’ total votes

So, if a winning candidate has twice as many
votes as needed to be elected, instead of
transferring half those votes at full value, all of
the votes are transferred at half value to the
candidates ranked next on each ballot. The
transfer value in this case is .5 – or ½.

Counting continues until all seats are filled
Counting continues as follows:
· The surpluses of elected candidates are
redistributed at the appropriate transfer value;
· If there are still unfilled seats and no surpluses
from elected candidates to redistribute, the
least popular candidate is eliminated and those
votes are redistributed at full value;
· This continues until all seats have been filled.

Exhausted ballots
If, in the course of counting, a ballot should be
transferred, but there are no more preferences
indicated on the ballot, it is considered
exhausted and is put aside.

This can happen when:
· The voter marks very few preferences, or
· All the preferred candidates have already been
elected and/or excluded.

If a seat becomes vacant between elections, a
by-election is held in that riding to elect a new
MLA. BC-STV specifies that by-elections will
use the same type of ballot used in regular BC-
STV elections – called a preferential ballot.

If only one MLA is to be elected, candidates
require a majority of votes (50% + 1) to be
elected. If more than one vacancy is to be filled
in a district, the normal BC-STV vote counting
procedures and quota calculation are used.

Elections BC
As today, Elections BC will supervise elections
and scrutineers will ensure accurate ballot counts.

Further information
For a wealth of information on the Citizens’
Assembly, BC-STV or other electoral systems,
see In particular,
for more detail on BC-STV ballot counting, see:
· the technical volume of the Final Report
· an animation of BC-STV ballot counting

1. Count voters’ first
preferences and allocate
these to each candidate
3. Does any
have enough
votes to be

4. Exclude last
placed candidate.
Redistribute those
votes to next
marked on ballots

5. Distribute
the surplus of
all newly
elected MLAs
to remaining

2. Quota determined

Step 1
All the votes are counted and sorted by the voters’
first preferences.

Step 2
The minimum number of votes required to win a
seat is determined. This number depends on how
many valid votes are cast and how many MLA
seats are available to be filled.

Step 3
Does any candidate have enough votes to win a
seat? If no, go to Step 4.
If yes, go to Step 5.

Step 4
Exclude the candidate with the fewest votes.
Redistribute these votes – at full value – to the next
preference shown on each ballot.

Add up new vote totals and return to Step 3.

Step 5
If the successful candidate has more votes than
needed to win a seat, these surplus votes are
redistributed to the remaining candidates – at a
calculated transfer value – based on the next
preference listed on each ballot.

Add up new vote totals and return to Step 3.

Counting Continues…
Repeat Steps 3 to 5 until all seats are filled.
Adapted from

Saturday, May 9, 2009

On the Cusp of Something Beautiful...

We are about to make history in BC. We will either go down as the people who dared to change the system, or else we will forever be known as the province that failed to bring about change when we had the chance.

I hope that BC - STV get the super majority that it needs in order to change the way that politicians are elected in BC. It may not be the system of electoral change that you would want (MMP, Irish STV, etc) - but I trust the 160 randomly selected citizens from all the ridings & aboriginal groups that put all the time and effort into coming up through consensus BC - STV in 2004.

As some of you know my husband Colin (HWSNBN) was a part of the Citizen's Assembly that came to the agreement on STV. I still marvel at the fact that he was randomly selected and I was not. He really didn't have any passion for politics and barely stifled a yawn when I would natter on about social justice, aboriginal affairs and global economies. But he went to the Assembly faithfully and travelled around with them during their time together. He grew to respect others opinions and recognised that BC needed a change.

I remember that he would be gone for one weekend a month and went to Prince George on the travelling road show. HWSNBN is an intelligent guy. He is methodical and pays attention to detail. I know that he put effort into this process and BC - STV came about after a lot of debate and argument.

The fact that the 160 members of the Citizens Assembly voted 95% in favour of STV speak volumes to me. I work in a system that has professionals who can barely agree on anything - let alone 95% on something.

You have a chance to be a part of something big on Tuesday. You have the chance to rock the house on how we vote in BC. The establishment will not give you the chance again to vote on electoral reform. It is not in the interest of Big Political Parties like the NDP or the Liberals to have STV. It makes them work hard at election time to either be your first or second choice. It would create more grass roots candidates from each region.

If BC STV gets voted in a super majority (60% +) on tuesday I might even consider running for election.

And tell me this - PQ can vote on whether or not to leave Canada with a simple majority - but if BC wants a new electoral system it needs a super majority? Something is messed up there.

But we can do it together. We can change the way politicians are elected. This isn't a right or left issue (although it is lamentable that BC STV used the same colours as the NPS candidates). This is about making a change.

I believe in BC STV - do you?


Friday, May 8, 2009

Christy Clark

I used to greatly dislike Ms. Clark but she has grown on me over the past few years.
She is insightful and provides a sound argument in favour of STV.