Apr 25, 2009

Another side to STV


I will take Marc’s suggestion and provide a bit of information on the other side of STV. No STV recommends on their web site that people watch the video on STV prepared by the Citizens’ Assembly. They suggest that watching this video in support of STV will be enough to convince people it is not such a good idea.

My two personal greatest concerns about STV relate to the size of some constituencies and the difference in voting patterns among income groups. The riding that contains Prince Rupert, for example, runs from the Alaska Boarder as far south as Kamloops. (See map) That giant riding would have three members, perhaps all elected from the same community. My second concern is that high income people vote in much greater numbers than low income people. Will STV simply cement the power of high income people in the electoral system?

In summary, from my point of view, I have come up with a one sentence description of STV. STV is a system of voting that permits a portion of your vote to be transferred, in a way you don’t understand, towards electing someone you don’t want to represent you in a riding that may be so large that they will have no accountability to the public.

The following material was put together by the NO STV campaign.

Our current First-Past-the-Post electoral system is easy to understand – the candidate with the most votes wins and represents one single riding. The party that wins the most ridings forms government.

But the Single Transferable Vote would create giant ridings of up to 7 Members of the Legislative Assembly representing over 300,000 people – losing local accountability and responsibility of MLAs to voters.

BC-STV’s complicated voting system means your single vote will be “fractionalized” and distributed so that you may never know how it was counted.

BC-STV would replace our current 85 constituencies with just 20 large areas electing 2 to 7 MLAs each.

That replaces local representation with regional representation by a group of MLAs, who would be hard to hold accountable for their actions.

Our First-Past-the-Post system is used by much of the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States, India and Canada.

Many of the claims that are made about STV cannot be demonstrated. They frequently depend on assumptions of how parties and voters would behave, but they behave differently in Ireland, Malta and Tasmania. Since there is no STV jurisdiction in the world that has the land mass and rural / urban population differences that B.C. does, there is no place you can go and see how STV might work if it were adopted for BC.

Hypothetical examples purport to demonstrate that BC-STV would give more proportional election outcomes, helping small parties to elect MLAs. In Malta where STV is used there have been four occasions, including in 2008, when the party with the greatest popular support won the fewest seats. In Ireland’s 2007 election, Sein Fein won 6.9% of the vote and elected 4 TDs while the Green Party won 4.7% of the vote and elected 6 TDs. Ireland’s long governing party, Fianna Fail, won 41.6% of the vote and elected 78 TDs (47.0%).

No STV takes no position on whether other electoral systems – such as Mixed Member Proportional – might be an improvement but if BC-STV is not rejected by voting for First-Past-the-Post system, BC-STV will be in place for a recommended minimum of three elections – 12 years.

Vote First-Past-The-Post on May 12 – don’t take a chance on STV.

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