Electoral Reform in South Vancouver Riding Needed Say Advocates

According to a political science expert, moving to a proportional representation system would reduce the high number of rejected ballots in Vancouver-Fraserview riding.


Reported by Lisa Steacy

Electoral reform could improve voter dissatisfaction in a South Vancouver riding that consistently has the highest rejected ballot rate in the city, according to a political science expert.

In the past four elections, Vancouver-Fraserview had nearly twice the provincial average of rejected ballots.

In the 2017 provincial elections, Vancouver-Fraserview had the highest rate of rejected ballots in the city.

The riding has been known for remarkably close election outcomes.

Different electoral systems

Keith Poore, vice president of the proportional representation advocacy group Fair Vote Vancouver, believes the proposed proportional representation system — which allocates seats in the provincial legislature based on the percentage of overall votes each party receives — would reduce the number of protest ballots because the composition of government would directly reflect the votes of individuals.

“You’re still going to have people who feel that their vote doesn’t matter or they still don’t feel encouraged to vote for a candidate that they see on their ballot but if we move to a proportional system we’re going to see less of that,” Poore said.

Poore said the high number of rejected ballots in the Vancouver-Fraserview area suggests voters are protesting through their ballots by deliberately marking them incorrectly.

In the current first-past-the-post system, seats are filled as candidates are voted into government. A majority government is formed as soon as a party wins over 50 per cent of the seats.

Stephen Phillips, a political science instructor at Langara College, said that with this current system, people often choose to vote strategically if the outcome of the election seems close because smaller parties won’t be represented in the final outcome.  “They want to kind of make clear their dissatisfaction with choices,” Phillips said.

Referendum coming

A referendum will be conducted later this year to decide if the province will abandon the current electoral system in favour of proportional representation. The first phase of public consultation ended on Feb. 28.

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