by NO STV
following are factual Questions and Answers about STV that
should be considered by all voters before they decide how
to vote on May 12, 2009.
is the Single-Transferable Vote (STV) proposed by the
Citizens Assembly as BC's new electoral system?
Single-Transferable Vote (STV) is an alternative to the
First Past The Post electoral system currently in use
in Canada and every province, as well as in the United
Kingdom and United States. It is also sometimes called
the Single Member Plurality system.
Past The Post is used by the most people - about 45%-
in the world living in democracies, in about 67 countries.
is used in just two countries nationally: Ireland and
Malta, representing about one 10th of 1% of the world
population. It is also used in the jurisdictions of Northern
Ireland, as well as the Australian senate and in some
Australian states, such as Tasmania.
countries use a variety of electoral systems, with List
Proportional Representation and the Two Round System being
the next most popular after First Past The Post.
STV in BC, there would be fewer but much larger constituencies
in which voters elect their Members of the Legislative
Assembly (MLA) to represent their interests.
the May 12, 2009 election, BC will have 85 different constituencies
(up from 79 in 2005) but under STV they would be grouped
into 20 constituencies with two to seven MLAs in each
would rank all candidates in that larger constituency
by their personal preference, with a 1 being their first
choice, 2 their second and so on. Voters can rank every
candidate in their constituency if they want to, but the
rankings are just instructions on how the single vote
gets counted. Each voters gets just one vote even if seven
MLAs are to be elected in the voter's constituency.
mathematical formula called the Droop Quota is used to
determine the percentage of support a particular candidate
needs. This quota will be different depending on the number
of seats in your constituency. The quota is the number
of valid votes cast divided by the number of seats plus
one, plus one vote.
method of transferring ranked preferences is called the
"Weighted Inclusive Gregory Method" (see Citizens Assembly
Technical Report for details).
a constituency of 100,000 voters electing three members
the number of votes needed to win is 25,001: that is 100,000
divided by 4 (3 + 1) + 1 vote.
counting the vote, all number 1 preferences are counted
first. Once a candidate has received enough votes to win,
the number 2 preference choices of those voters are counted
and so on until all candidates are elected in the constituency.
here for an explanation of STV vote counting.
constituency will I be in under STV, what are the geographical
boundaries and how many members will represent the constituency?
First Past the Post, each voter chooses one candidate
to represent their constituency and the candidate who
wins more votes than any other is elected.
FPTP constituency has one MLA who is personally accountable
to those voters and the constituencies are much smaller
both geographically and in terms of the number of voters
in each one.
One of FPTP's biggest advantages is the simplicity and
ease of understanding it brings to all voters.
may also be faced with a very large ballot and dozens
of candidates in larger ridings, making it hard to rank
the candidates knowledgeably. Click
here to see the details of an actual count in the last
election in Ireland.
will also be confused by a mathematical quota called the
Weighted Inclusive Gregory System which determines how
and where exactly their vote will be "transferred"
to, by having to rank a large number of candidates in
each constituency and by the need to trust computers to
get the results right.
there any other options other than keeping FPTP or voting
for STV? Can we adopt other electoral systems?
only choice on the referendum question is to either keep
our current FPTP system or to adopt an STV electoral system.
Considering other systems after the referendum will be
up to voters and the government they elect.
will be less local representation and accountability because
STV will mean much larger constituencies and MLAs will
be representing far more people over a wider geographic
First Past The Post, smaller constituencies with only
one MLA mean that elected representative must be available
and accountable to the constituency, not just the part
of it with more voters.
large rural constituencies that contain a major town,
it's possible that all MLAs elected will come from that
town because that's where the most voters are, reducing
accountability for other parts of the constituency.
city constituencies like Vancouver, the majority of MLAs
may come from one part of the city. In Vancouver municipal
elections the west side of the city has elected the vast
majority of city councilors because west side residents
vote in higher numbers than east side residents.
supporters say local representation is very good in Ireland
under STV. What's the difference with BC?
and Ireland are quite different geographically, with BC
many times larger. However Ireland's population is very
close to BC's 4 million people and they have 166 representatives
in their parliament, called the Dail, while in BC we will
have just 85 MLAs in our Legislature.
means tiny Ireland has double the number of elected representatives
as huge BC for roughly the same number of people.
with huge ridings and few MLAs parts of BC would likely
lose local representation. In some areas it is possible
that no local candidate would be elected as an MLA, removing
local representation completely.
STV give proportional results? That is, if a party gets
10% of the popular vote in B.C. would it win 10% of the
STV supporters say it is more proportional than FPTP but
there is no guarantee that seats won will correspond with
popular vote. Proportional representation electoral systems
such as List PR are designed to ensure such proportionality,
a party got 10% of the vote under STV it would be unlikely
to win a seat in any constituency in BC. Look again at
the example of a constituency of 100,000 voters electing
three members: the number of votes needed to win is 25,001,
which means that a party would need at least 25% support
to win one seat of the three.
Proponents say because STV it is more proportional "overall"
if is a fairer system. But a candidate in a two-member
riding in northern BC can get elected with 33.3% public
support while a Capital Region candidate can get elected
with just 12.5% of the votes cast.
means some MLAs have had to win far more support than
others to be elected to the BC Legislature.
necessarily. Malta has used STV since 1921 but since
1950 not a single independent candidate has been elected.
Any candidate requires significant funding to win election
and with STV the constituencies will be much bigger, forcing
candidates to raise even more money. In a six-member constituency
as proposed for the west side of Vancouver, major parties
will likely spend $1 million or more in that constituency
campaign alone - an amount no independent candidate could
necessarily. In Malta, which has had STV since 1921, there
are only two parties with elected officials. In recent
elections the largest third party has won less than 2%
of the vote and no seats. In Ireland small parties have
won seats but so have smaller parties in BC under First
Past The Post, as recently as in 1996.
In Malta women make up just 9.2% of the country's legislators,
with only 6 women elected out of 65 representatives. In
Ireland just 13.3% of elected officials are women.
comparison, in British Columbia under our First Past The
Post system, women make up 22.8% of our MLAs, 18 out of
79. While it isn't representative of our society, it is
significantly better than under either STV system.
in Canada women represent 21.1% of all elected Members
of Parliament, with 65 women out of 308 seats.
no vote were to be "wasted"; that would mean
every voter's candidate of choice would have to win election
-- it's not possible or sensible. Elections are to select
which candidate in each constituency has the most support
and then which parties across the province have enough
support from elected members to form a government.
supporters say that by ranking your choice of candidates,
the odds are one of your choices will win a seat. But
that's a little like saying if you bet on every horse
in a horserace, one of your picks will be a winner.
because of the complicated transfer system, you will never
know were your vote actually went in electing the MLAs
for your constituency.
First Past The Post, your vote goes to one candidate and
is counted clearly. Regardless of your choice, that's
not a wasted vote.
an STV electoral system is approved, will that mean an
end to majority governments?
In Malta, where STV has been in effect since 1921, there
is almost always a majority government formed by one of
their two major parties. And our current electoral system
does not guarantee majority governments -- look at the
federal minority government situation in Parliament today.
It is a mistake to think an electoral system will change
the nature of politics and politicians. Under STV, if
no party has a majority there will have to be deals to
form a minority government supported by several parties.
STV does mean is that potentially a party with just a
few MLAs who may represent a very minority view will have
the balance of power and can dictate policies in the backroom
to the other parties who want to form a government.
under STV there will be deals around nominating candidates
in the multi-member constituencies that STV requires.
an STV system mean political parties have less influence
over candidates and that candidates can be more responsive
Individual candidates will still require the same level
of significant election campaign financing they need today
to get elected, meaning they will still need political
STV combines the smaller single member constituencies
of our current system into large multi-member constituencies,
the likelihood is that special interest groups would dominate
the nomination process of political parties even more
example, if 7 candidates from each party are to be nominated
in the Capital Region, whoever signs up the most party
members for their own personal campaign will also be able
to pick the party's other 6 candidates, because they will
have the most votes at the meeting.
adopt an STV electoral system requires 60% of all valid
votes in the May 12, 2009 election to vote in favour,
plus the referendum requires that 60% of all 85 constituencies
in BC to vote in favour of STV by a simple majority.
is, overall 60% of all BC voters must vote yes to STV
and voters in at least 51 of BC's 85 constituencies must
vote in favour of STV by 50% plus 1 vote.
necessarily. It is up to the new government to decide
what to do if STV is rejected by the voters. Both the
NDP and the Green Party have positions in favour of some
form of proportional representation.
Electoral change is always an important part of democracy.
NO STV is simply very concerned with the STV proposal.
is complicated, confusing, prone to errors and delay,
it reduces local accountability, increases the size of
ridings, allows MLAs to avoid direct accountability for
their decisions, increases party control and allows special
interests to dominate party nominations.
also hasn't been proven to do many of the things its proponents
claim -- like increase the ability of third parties and
independents to get elected, and it is not truly proportional
in guaranteeing that each party will get the number of seats
in the Legislature equivalent to the percentage of votes