Electoral Reform in BC

A Policy Note series on proportional representation

About the series

From October 22 to November 30, 2018, British Columbians voted on a new electoral system for our province. The ballot asked two questions: Do voters want to change from our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system to a form of proportional representation (“pro rep”)? The second question asked, if British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following voting systems do you prefer? And people got to rank their preferences between Mixed Member, Dual Member or Rural-Urban.

  • Dual Member would see parties nominate two candidates for each riding. The first seat will go to the first candidate of the party with the most votes; the second seat would be allocated based on the provincial and local popular vote.
  • Mixed Member has voters elect 60% of MLAs from their ridings, and the other 40% from regional party lists, such that each party gets a number of seats that corresponds to their share of the popular vote.
  • Rural-Urban is a mixed system in which rural MLAs would be elected using the Mixed Member model above, and urban ridings would be combined and elect four to seven MLAs by ranking candidates in order of preference (using the Single Transferable Vote method).

The CCPA-BC has determined that pro rep would much better reflect the real preferences and backgrounds of BC voters. This series of posts explains why and debunks myths from the ‘No’ side.

Recommended resources from others

October 2018 | Elections BC
Learn about the voting systems
Elections BC explains the voting systems on the referendum ballot, and provides links to learn more about each one. Visit page »

October 2018 | Elections BC
Playlist: 2018 referendum
Includes videos about: (1) First Past the Post, (2) Dual Member, (3) Mixed Member and (4) Rural-Urban.


October 2018 | The Leap
Naomi Klein on why she supports pro rep


October 2018 | Anon
Would You Rather: BC 2018 Referendum Wizard
One electoral reform keener has produced an online survey designed to help you figure out your personal rankings (but use it with caution, as any attempt to weight one’s values is inherently imperfect). Take the survey »

October 2018 | The Tyee
BC’s Big Vote: Your Guide to the Proportional Representation Referendum
This series by Andrew Seal is designed to help you cast a more informed ballot. Beginning with an overview of the electoral reform referendum, it goes on to take deep dives into each system on the ballot: our current first-past-the-post system and Dual Member, Mixed Member and Rural-Urban proportional representation. Learn more »

July 2018 | CBC News
What’s the difference between all these voting systems?

July 2018 | The Tyee
BC’s options for electoral reform explained


Talks, panels and debates

October 2018 | PolitiCoast
The great Canadian Club electoral reform debate: Seth Klein vs. Suzanne Anton

October 2018 | Runnymede Society
UBC Law: Electoral reform debate with Seth Klein and Suzanne Anton


October 2018 | CCPA-BC
Seth Klein: Why voting ‘Yes’ is so crucial




The latest

November 2018 | Seth Klein
Pro rep leads to better public policy
As Seth Klein describes, countries that use proportional representation outperform those with ‘winner-take-all’ systems on measures of democracy, quality of life, income equality, diversity among elected representatives, values of tolerance, environmental performance and fiscal policy. Read article »


October 2018 | Seth Klein
Getting to pro rep: How I plan to rank the options
Well, you finally talked him into it. CCPA-BC Director Seth Klein shares how he will be ranking the options in the upcoming electoral reform referendum—while reminding us to let our own values guide our vote. Read article »


October 2018 | Seth Klein
Pro rep will indeed mean more minority governments — bring it on!
Pro rep almost always produces minority or coalition governments. Which is great! Seth Klein explains how minority outcomes result in more cooperation in our politics, and popular and long-lasting policies. Read article »


August 2018 | Seth Klein and Vyas Saran
The case for electoral reform
Let’s cut right to the chase: British Columbia needs proportional representation (pro rep). We deserve a democracy where we vote for the representatives we want, not strategically against those we most dislike. We deserve to be liberated to vote our values, and feel safe knowing it made a difference. This post outlines the clear and compelling case for change. Read article »


July 2018 | Seth Klein
How electoral reform enhances local representation
An all-too-common argument used to oppose changing our electoral system this fall is that a new system will diminish or end local representation. But in fact, the opposite is true. Each pro rep option on offer ensures you will have both a nearby MLA, as well as an MLA in relatively close proximity who shares your political values. Read article »


July 2018 | Seth Klein and Vyas Saran
Electoral reform will not enable the far right: Debunking a red herring
Does pro rep enable far right or “extremist” political parties? Short answer: No. As Seth Klein and Vyas Saran explain, no electoral system has a monopoly on either preventing or fostering far right parties. The contention that first-past-the-post saves us from extremist political elements is, they write, “rubbish.” Read article »


June 2018 | Seth Klein and Vyas Saran
Electoral reform is simple, actually
In the first post of the series, Seth Klein and Vyas Saran debunk claims that the options for electoral reform in BC are just too complicated for citizens to navigate. This post explains the options before us, and shows that British Columbians can (and should) choose a new system that captures how we want to balance local representation with proportional outcomes. Read article »


October 2016 | Alex Himelfarb
Why proportional representation is likely to produce better public policy
Two years before the start of this series, Alex Himelfarb explained why a more proportional electoral system—in which the results of our elections more accurately reflect how we actually voted— would indeed matter for the strength of our democracy and for the quality of our governance and public policy. Read article »


September 2016 | Maxwell Cameron
How proportional representation could help to decentralize power and strengthen Parliament
Back in 2016, Maxwell Cameron shared his submission to the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform, which explains how the adoption of a more proportional electoral system could bring more voices into government, restore balance, and prevent the abuses of power. Read article »

In the news

October 2018 | The Early Edition (CBC Radio One)
Debate: Seth Klein vs Suzanne Anton on whether BC should adopt pro rep

July & August 2018 | Redeye (Vancouver Co-Op Radio)
Part 1: Seth Klein explains the principle of pro rep and the proposed models for BC

Part 2: Seth Klein on how pro rep fixes problems with current electoral system