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Columns on the No BC-STV Campaign

April 19, Iain Hunter, Times Colonist: New voting system alienates representation

March 23, 2009 Bruce Strachan: The single transferable vote—
or how to get elected without really winning

Why you should defeat the Single Transferable Vote on May 12 - Bill Tieleman in Vancouver Sun

Complicated STV takes away MLA accountability

By Bill Tieleman, Special to the Vancouver Sun

May 5, 2009

British Columbians are faced with an even more important decision than who to vote for in the May 12 election -- because a referendum on electoral systems could have far more long-lasting effects on our province.

Voters must choose between our existing first-past-the-post electoral system and a proposed Single Transferable Vote.

No STV, the official opponent group, has been strongly urging British Columbians to reject this complex, obscure and confusing electoral system that would take away the local accountability and responsibility members of the legislative assembly owe to voters.

The reasons are many.

STV would create enormous ridings of up to seven MLAs and 350,000 people that would take away local accountability and responsibility of MLAs to voters.

British Columbia's 85 single-member ridings would shrink to just 20 under STV, meaning instead of having your own MLA in your current riding, you would have up to seven MLAs in a much bigger area.

In some cases that new STV riding is absurdly large -- Cariboo-Thompson STV riding would stretch from Quesnel all the way to the United States border!

And in other cases the STV ridings simply make no sense.

The proposed North Island-South Coast STV riding is bisected by Georgia Strait.

Voters in Sechelt, Gibsons, Powell River and the Sunshine Coast would share their MLAs with those in Tofino, Port Alberni, Port Hardy, Comox, Courtenay and other north Island communities.

Imagine the all-candidates meetings or party nominations -- or imagine how the riding's four MLAs would rationally divide their attention to the more than 200,000 people there stretching across the strait and hundreds of kilometres apart.

No longer would any of these ridings have their own MLA. Instead, voters would have a group of MLAs, none of whom would be responsible for any of the former single member ridings.

Nor would there be any guarantee of where MLA offices and staff would be located to deal with residents' issues.

And instead of local accountability, voters would get "government by committee" with a group of MLAs who may not come from parts of the riding or get along with other elected members.

Then there's STV's complicated "fractionalizing" of your vote using a mathematical "transfer value" formula that means you will never know where your vote really went.

The "weighted Gregory inclusive method" is how votes will be chopped up.

Here's just a partial sample of how the vote works, as described by the Citizens Assembly that recommended STV:

"If a candidate on the first count gains more than the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, the candidate is declared elected, and the number of votes in excess of the number of votes needed to be elected (the surplus) is recorded.

"All of the elected candidate's ballots are then re-examined and assigned to candidates not yet elected according to the second preferences marked on the ballots of those who gave a first preference vote to the elected candidate. These votes are allocated according to a 'transfer value.'

"The formula for the transfer value is . . . ."

There are 11 other steps involved in the count. And after that, the "Droop Quota" will determine how many votes a candidate needs to win election.

I am not making this up.

STV proponents say you can easily rank your choices 1,2,3 -- but the math involved shows you will have no idea what happened to your vote because there are far more mathematical combinations possible than there are 6/49 Lottery pick possibilities.

STV will also increase, not decrease, the power of political parties.

Candidates in large STV ridings would have to reach far more voters in a 350,000-person STV riding than under our current system with single member constituencies of about 50,000 people.

That makes candidates even more dependent on political parties to get their names and message out.

And smaller third parties and independents would face huge challenges trying to reach that many voters across large geographic areas.

Malta under STV has failed to elect a single third party candidate since the 1960s and no independent since the 1950s.

And Ireland, the only other country using STV as a national electoral system, features politics far nastier and more party-dominated than here.

Lastly, if STV proponents are correct, B.C. could have perpetual unstable minority and coalition governments -- a recipe for endless backroom deals between politicians and no leadership for our province.

Remember that if STV passes, B.C. will be stuck with it for a recommended minimum of three elections -- that's 12 years, running to 2025 -- before changes can be considered.

Vote to keep our current first-past-the-post system on May 12 -- and if you believe there are better systems work for that afterwards. Don't accept a disastrous STV system that won't serve British Columbia.

For more information:

Bill Tieleman is president of No STV.

Letters to the Editor on the No BC-STV Campaign

May 2, 2009, Just Say No to STV

March 11, 2009,, STV is Complex Electoral System

March 11, 2009,, STV is too confusing

Editorials and News on the No BC-STV Campaign

February Langara Dialogues Debate
with Shoni Field and David Schreck

March 11, 2009, (editorial copied below)

Vote no to STV
Published: March 11, 2009 8:00 AM

During the May 12 provincial election voters will also be casting their ballots to determine if they want to switch to the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system for future elections. During the 2005 referendum, 57.69 per cent of voters were in favour of STV. However, it failed to meet the 60 per cent threshold required to be implemented.

Which proves that some people are so desperate for electoral reform, they’re willing to jump in bed with the first system proposed.

Practice safe voting, don’t let our Legislature catch STV.

Under the STV system, MLAs would be grouped into larger, multi-MLA ridings. In Prince George the new Prince George-Mackenzie, Prince George-Valemount and Nechako Lakes ridings would be combined into a three-MLA riding extending from Smithers to Valemount.

Instead of selecting a single candidate, voters rank the candidates from first to last place.

Votes are tallied using a complicated shell game, with votes passing from voters’ first to second to third choices until enough candidates have reached the threshold to be elected.

It is probably the most ingeniously stupid way to elect governments ever devised.

It has all the advantages of being complex, confusing and cumbersome, while electing MLAs who can’t effectively serve their ridings.

It starts during the election campaign, and gets worse from there.

Even a small riding like Prince George is in would have three Liberals, three New Democrats, three Greens and numerous independent candidates. The candidates that get heard in that shouting match will be the ones with money for signs and advertising.

Instead of giving independents and smaller parties a voice, the system will drown them out in information overload.

Then voters go to the ballot box and have to decide from a bewildering selection of candidates. In Prince George that might be under 20, but in larger ridings like Vancouver it could easily be 40 or more.

Then the shell game begins and some candidates get elected, although for many people it will be hard to follow the convoluted logic which got them voted in.

Now we’ve got a cluster of MLAs representing each riding. Having different parties representing each riding is very possible, and promoted as a benefit of STV.

That’s great until someone needs to get their MLA’s support or help on something. Now instead of having to get one person on board, you have to convince three, five, seven or nine.

Our politicians are certainly known for their collaborative, non-partisan approach. I’m sure we’ll never have MLAs from one party sabotaging the efforts of MLAs of the other parties in the riding.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the ridings in rural areas are huge.

We would have three MLAs each trying to individually cover an area 1.54 times the size of Ireland or more than 411 times the size of Malta — the only places on earth that use STV exclusively.

STV would fail to deliver on everything it promises: voter choice, proportionality and local representation.

Too many choices are no choice at all; proportionality will only apply to those with the money to get heard; and local representation will be neutralized by competing MLAs and vast, unmanageable ridings.

Electoral reform could be beneficial for B.C. and Canada, but don’t fall head over heels for the first system to come knocking at the door.

Vote no to STV.



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