PR Primer: Why we need a new voting system Prepared by Wendy Bergerud, July 2015 (with much borrowed material) Outline Part I: Introduction How did I get into this? Fair Vote Canada Who we are Part II: What is a voting system? Our current voting system and its weaknesses Part III: PR Voting Systems Part IV: FAQ 2
Handout Material Three handouts that provide additional material: 1) FVC: Frequently Asked Questions 2) FVC: Why Proportional Representation? 3) FVC: Statement of Purpose Changing our voting system would be a foundational improvement to our democracy. 3 How did I get into this? Like most people I have been unhappy with the way our political system seems to work. For instance: How can 40% of the popular vote give a
party a majority of seats and hence a majority government? Why does the power seem to be getting more and more centralized in the PM or premiers offices? 4 Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform Learning Phase: Jan to Mar 2004 Public Hearings: Apr to Jun 2004 50 held throughout the province Summary meeting June 2004 in Prince George. Submissions: until mid August 2004 Received 1603! Deliberation Phase: Sept to Dec 2004
5 Photo by Kent Kallberg 6 The Assemblys Three Key Values Fairness parties share of seats in the Legislature mirrors their share of votes Local representation communities and regions are represented in the house Voter choice voters have more choice not only between candidates but also between parties
7 Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform Recommended a voting system by 146 to 7 First Referendum in May 2005 Passed in 77 of 79 ridings Only 57.8% overall support Electoral Boundaries Commission drew both sets of boundaries for 2009 election. Second Referendum in May 2009 with differently worded question.
Passed in 8 of 85 ridings with 39% overall support. 8 What is Fair Vote Canada? National, multi-partisan citizens campaign for voting system reform. FVC promotes changing our voting system to one that better meets the 5 goals in the FVC: Statement of Purpose. Over 55,000 supporters, 34 chapters and teams across the country. Advisory Board of prominent Canadians.
FVC: FAQ 9 To determine the best model of Proportional Representation for Canada, while respecting the need for all MPs to face the voters and be accountable to voters, we call on federal parties and candidates to commit to: 1.Conducting a consultation process including citizen participation and multipartisan experts immediately following the next federal election. 2.Implementing the model in time for the following election. 10
FVC Member? Consider signing the Declaration of Voters Rights (link on main page: www.fairvote.ca) Consider joining Fair Vote Canada Just $10 the first year. (click on the DONATE button on the main page) Consider donating to FVC. 11 Part II
What is a Voting system? Who can change it? What is a PR voting system? Our current system and its weaknesses. 12 What is a voting system? And who can change it? This is the system of rules and methods by which citizens votes are translated into seats in our legislature or parliament. Canadas Voting System can be changed directly by Parliament.
There is NO legal requirement for a citizens assembly or a referendum. 13 The constitution does NOT need to be changed BUT the number of members elected from each province is restricted by the constitution. So whatever voting system we change to must have the same number of MPs within each province as we now have. The country-wide proportionality must be obtained by proportional results within each province == > no country-wide list. 14
Families of Voting Systems Winner-take-all SMP/FPTP AV/IRV Alternative Vote/Instant Run-off Voting Proportional Voting Systems PR-List STV Single Transferable Vote Mixed: MMP Mixed Member Proportional and MMM / Parallel FVC: WhyPR 15 What is Proportional
Representation (PR)? It is any voting system that produces a Parliament (or other representative body such as a legislature or council) where the voters are represented in that body in proportion to how they voted. OR where the number of seats obtained is proportional to the share of votes obtained by each representative or party. FVC: FAQ 16 Does FVC advocate for any particular PR system? We do NOT advocate for any particular
PR voting system. We advocate a made in Canada solution to take into account our large and diversified country. While some form of PR-list is used in most countries using a PR voting system, no one is recommending it for Canada. FVC: FAQ 17 Our current SMP (FPTP) system SMP stands for Single Member Plurality == > SM means that just one person is elected from each
riding/constituency/electoral district (ED) == > Plurality means that the candidate with the MOST votes wins the seat. FPTP stands for First Past The Post A Winner-take-all voting system. 18 Our current SMP (FPTP) system For 2015, our current system divides the country into 338 districts with approximately equal numbers of people in each. Our association and interest in parliament is defined by where we live. Instead of ONE election we actually have 338 elections: one MP from each riding.
== > The 338 results create our parliament. 19 Voting creates Parliament Hence, we dont directly vote for a government, but create a Parliament. The Parliament of 338 MPs then chooses who will form government and that government chooses the Prime Minister. Of course, the parties have simplified this process so that the party winning the most seats usually forms government, with its leader becoming the Prime Minister. 20 Whats wrong with the
candidate with the most votes winning? == > Half of Canadian voters dont actually elect anyone == > The elected Parliament rarely looks much like how we voted. In a democratic government, the right of decision belongs to the majority, but the right of representation belongs to all FVC: FAQ 21 2008 Federal Election
1.3 Million votes = 49 Seats Greens 940,000 votes = 0 Seats 22 23 24 Alberta votes that didnt help elect someone (2015) Votes Not
Electing PC WRP NDP LIB AP Other Total Votes Received 340,154 412,955 215,013 360,201
100% 54% 25 http://myvoteshouldcount.ca/ 26 Wasted votes 2011 = 7,280,599 Approx 50% each election Liberal NDP Green Conservative Bloc Other:
2,211,697 2,117,112 540,205 1,455,077 826,805 129,703 27 Is Voting Reform a Civil Rights Issue? Canadians have charter rights to effective representation (S3) and equal treatment (S15). Current system denies half the voters effective representation and treats them differently. So, current voting system doesnt comply
with the charter. These are individual rights, not party rights. 28 But isnt our current voting system simple? Our current voting systems seems simple: The ballot is easy to use Counting the votes is relatively easy: just figure out who got the most votes BUT The outcomes are anything but simple to explain! 29 Outcomes with SMP are erratic
Using our voting system to reflect the will of the electorate is like using a funhouse mirror to reflect your image. 30 BC NDP Support Almost Constant yet outcome unrelated Year Liberals
NDP Green 1986 7% 43% 0.2% 1991 33% 41%
1% 1996 42% 39% 2% 2001 58% 22%
12% 2005 46% 42% 9% 2009 46% 42% 8%
2013 44% 40% 8% 31 Regional Amplification Our voting system weakens Canadas cohesion. It makes our major parties appear less national and our regions more politically opposed than they really are. (Stphane Dion)
32 Local Representation A supposed strength of SMP/FPTP. This system fundamentally defines our interests according to where we live; it is assumed that we share our values and interests with our physical neighbours. This may have worked back in the 1800s when a small group of landowners within would get together and decide who to send off to the far away legislature to represent their (similar) interests. 33 Local Representation
But it doesnt work anymore: System hasnt adapted as more groups were enfranchised (e.g. Women, Asians, Aboriginal, Indo-Canadians, etc.) Many communities of interest are now spatially diffuse and unable to get reasonable representation they must be spatially congregated enough within a riding to get representation. 34 Local Representation http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/ebca/pdf/WhitePaper.pdf 35
Local Representation Can an MP really represent ALL of his or her constituents when they vote as a legislator? Especially when, on average, they only received half of the vote in their riding. . . The ombudsperson role is really about providing "constituency service. Is it really representation? 36 37 Its an election. Doesnt someone have to lose? Yes, but it shouldnt be the voters! Generally, half of all those who voted
cant see anyone in Parliament who they helped elect. In New Zealands 2011 election, using a PR electoral system, 97% of those voting helped elect someone. FVC: FAQ 38 NZ poster: Your vote is worth exactly the same as mine and thats a powerful thing 39 Majority Governments? A majority government should represent a majority of its citizens.
We commonly get one-party majority governments with less than 50% support While stable during their term, longterm stability is missing as we lurch from one ruling party to another. In the last 16 BC elections weve had only one true majority government (2001). 40 Minority/Coalition Govts Minority or coalition governments are more likely with a proportional voting system. Parties are more likely to form coalitions that represent a majority of the voters. Small changes in voting patterns wont change results much so parties will have
to work together hence ==> Policy changes will be more stable over the long-term. 41 New Zealand after changing to a PR model (MMP) The end of single-party majority governments has revitalized their House of Representatives: Its committees are stronger than they once were, no longer dominated by a government party majority that functions on the command of the Prime Minister. The Cabinet has also been strengthened vis--vis the PM because almost all Cabinets since 1996 have been composed of members from two or more parties,
eliminating the ability of the PM to simply demand greater party discipline. Paraphrased from Democratizing the Constitution, pg 148 42 SMP: Half of the voters are denied the MP they voted for If you and your neighbour dont agree politically, the only way that each of you can be properly represented in Parliament (or legislature) is if each of you helped elect a different MP. With our current system, we only let one person speak for each geographic
district (or riding). 43 Instead: Every vote should affect the outcome In a modern democracy, each region needs different MPs or MLAs to represent the diverse groups and points of view within it. This would improve local representation. That is, we need multimember districts. This is one essential component of any proportional voting system. 44 Part III PR Choices
What are some PR choices? Main Features of a PR system Voting system components Brief description of some PR choices. 45 What are some PR choices? Three main families:
1.PR-List vote for parties (candidate lists) 2.Mixed: MMP a mixture of PR-list with SMP (or AV ranked ballots in single member ridings) 3.STV a variety of PR-list where voters rank the candidates on the party lists and can cross party lines when doing so. (Note: Ranked Ballots is not a voting system on its own.) 46 Main Features of a PR system MUST have multi-member districts! STV uses ranked ballots in multi-member districts. The candidate list in MMP actually
represents a multi-member riding. Each list belongs to a multi-member, maybe regional, riding. MMP also uses single member ridings. PR-list only uses multi-member ridings. 47 Main Features of a PR system PR systems can be designed with tiers. STV and FPTP are one tier systems. MMP is a two tier system: one tier of single member ridings and at least one tier that combines the single member ridings into regions for the list(s). PR-list is often designed with tiers so that the lower tier ridings can be smaller, while the
upper tier ridings help smooth out the overall proportionality of the results. 48 Voting System Components Electoral districts, including how many are elected from each (DM-district magnitude) Ballot, including how voters mark their preference(s) Calculations: how voters choices are counted and calculations for determination of which candidates get seats Well describe the first two features 49
Simple PR-List Ballot Blue Party Red Party Orange Party Green Party Ballot may include names of all party candidates. 50 PR-List Ballot Ballot may include names of all party candidates or just party leaders name
and/or picture Closed List can only vote for party. Open List vote for party via choice of one of the partys candidates. Flexible List can vote for the party and accept their candidate ranking OR choose to vote for one of a partys candidates. 51 10 Member Region Results of the popular vote PR-List results closely match the popular vote 52 SMP / FPTP Ballot Art Scallion (Blue)
Sandy Rouge (Red) Ellen Holland (Orange) Victor Oak (Green) Party lists of ONE person 53 FPTP results Single Member Plurality (SMP) Disproportionate Results 54
AV / IRV Ballot Art Scallion (Blue) 2 Sandy Rouge (Red) 4 Ellen Holland (Orange) 1 Victor Oak (Green)
3 Party lists of ONE person 55 AV / IRV Ballot Calculations: 1.If someone gets a quota of 50% + 1 of the vote then they get the seat. 2.If not, then person with the fewest votes is eliminated. Their ballots are then transferred to the next choice marked. 3.Repeat until someone reaches the quota or there is just one person left. 56
AV / IRV results Party Outcomes often similar to SMP / FPTP Disproportionate Results 57 Ranked/Preferential Ballot Can be used as a component of any PR voting system, but is not a voting system on its own. Voting can be sincere instead of strategic Prevents the election of unpopular candidates. Eliminates vote splitting within the districts Requires candidates to court the supporters of other candidates/parties == > leads to more civil & meaningful debate
58 STV Ballot Party lists of several persons Assigned Ranks: 1 2 Art Scallion (Blue) Bev Oyster (Blue)
3 4 5 6 9 Martin Moonlight (Blue)
Sandy Rouge (Red) Lee Feather (Red) Bill General (Orange) 8 Walter Water (Red) Voters assign
ranks to individual candidate s - not parties 7 Ellen Holland (Orange) Jack Nimble
(Orange) Heather Maple (Green) Victor Oak (Green) 59 10 STV - Small Regions Teams of MPs in each region provides proportionality, both locally and overall Proportional Results (Teams of MPs represent most of the voters in each riding)
60 MMP Ballot 1) Local Member - SMP Art Scallion (Blue) Sandy Rouge (Red) Ellen Holland (Orange) Victor Oak (Green) Party lists of ONE person within single member ridings
61 MMP Ballot 1) Local Member - AV Art Scallion (Blue) 2 Sandy Rouge (Red) 4 Ellen Holland (Orange) 1
Victor Oak (Green) 3 Party lists of ONE person within single member ridings 62 2) MMP Ballot Closed List Blue Red Party Party
Party lists of several persons Orang e Party Green Party Art Scallion Sandy
Rouge Bill General Heather Maple Bev Oyster Walter Water Ellen Holland
Victor Oak Martin Moonlig ht Vote ONLY Lee Feather Jack Nimble for the preferred party 63
2) MMP Ballot Open List Blue Party Party lists of Red Party Orang e Party Green
Party Art Scallion Sandy Rouge Bill General Heather Maple Bev Oyster
Walter Water Ellen Holland Victor Oak several persons Martin Lee Jack Moonlig Feather
Nimble ht Vote for preferred candidate also counts vote. for party 64 2) MMP Ballot Flexible List Choose party OR candidate Blue Party lists of
Party several persons Red Party Orang e Party Green Party Art Scallion
Sandy Rouge Bill General Heather Maple Bev Oyster Walter Water Ellen
Holland Victor Oak Martin Moonlig ht Lee Feather Jack Nimble 65 2) MMP Ballot Flexible
List Choose party OR candidate Blue Party lists of Party several persons Red Party Orang e Party
Green Party Art Scallion Sandy Rouge Bill General Heather Maple Bev
Oyster Walter Water Ellen Holland Victor Oak Lee Feather Jack Nimble
Martin Moonlig ht 66 MMP A Two Tier System First Tier (like FPTP or AV) Second Tier Regional List
Disproportional results in the first tier are compensated by results in the second 67 Part IV Frequently Asked Questions. 68 Would PR make our system more unstable? Weve had more elections since WWII than Italy (supposed particularly unstable). SMP is sensitive to small shifts in voter preferences, especially in swing ridings.
Leads to more regime changes after elections. == > Difficult for govt to address the countrys long-term priorities. FVC: FAQ 69 Wont this mean constant coalition governments? Govts formed under any voting system represent coalitions of different groups. Our big tent parties are already coalitions. Coalition govts require more public and transparent negotiations. The resulting coalitions will represent a true
majority of voters. Their policies are more likely to be supported by most voters and remain supported over the long-term. FVC: FAQ 70 Wont parties multiply like rabbits? Our current parties may restructure, but were unlikely to see many more parties. Voters want to support parties with the heft to have an impact on policy. Most voting systems require some minimum level of support to get elected either deliberately or naturally from the design. Parties without substantial
support will still find it hard to win seats. FVC: FAQ 71 What effect might PR have on national unity? Should be good for national unity Regional parties get more seats for their popular vote than parties with diffuse or national support with same level of support. Regional parties: Reform and the Bloc National/widespread support: Green Party In 1993, the PCs got 16% of the vote but only two seats. Should have gotten 47 seats! FVC: FAQ
72 What about representation by women and minorities? < 25% women MPs Puts us about 54th in the world. With just one candidate per riding, that person often ends up being a white male. Under PR, parties will be putting forward several candidates in multi-member districts of some kind. Diversity will be easier and more easily rewarded. FVC: FAQ 73
How many countries use PR? > 90 countries use PR (see handout) Includes most European and all Latin American countries. Most countries have used PR for decades E.g. Ireland and Tasmania have been using it for nearly 100 years. New democracies dont choose SMP. FVC: FAQ 74 FVC Videos MMP with 16 MP regions and plurality in the single member ridings
Jenkins AV+ is an MMP model with 8 MP regions and ranked ballots in the single member ridings Dions P3 Small multi-members ridings like STV BUT uses a ranked ballot for parties with a candidate choice ONLY for the first preference party. Hopefully an STV video will also be made. 76 To determine the best model of Proportional Representation for Canada, while respecting the need for all MPs to face the voters and be accountable to voters, we call on federal parties and candidates to commit to:
1.Conducting a consultation process including citizen participation and multipartisan experts immediately following the next federal election. 2.Implementing the model in time for the following election. 77 Websites Fair Vote Canada: www.fairvote.ca Resources at: www.fairvote.ca/resources/ Fair Voting BC: fairvotingbc.com Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada:
http://www.fairvote.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ Law-Commission-of-Canada-Report.pdf BC White Paper on Electoral Boundary Reform: http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/ebca/pdf/WhitePaper.pdf FVC Campaign documents, 2015: http://tinyurl.com/qe4c4sm 78 79
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