BC-STV

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.

By-elections

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 www.citizensassembly.bc.ca. 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

candidate

have enough

votes to be

elected?

4. Exclude last

placed candidate.

Redistribute those

votes to next

preferences

marked on ballots

Have

enough

MLAs

been

elected?

5. Distribute

the surplus of

all newly

elected MLAs

to remaining

preferences

Finish

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 www.dia.govt.nz

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