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FAQ: Reasons for choosing BC-STV

Why did the Citizens’ Assembly recommend BC-STV?
It was the Assembly's job to find the best system for all British Columbians. Members listened carefully to the important values expressed by many British Columbians all over the province and then choose the electoral system which best fits those values.  These three values are: local representation, fairness of representation (or proportionality) and voter choice.

The Assembly created and endorsed a made-for-BC system that met those three values: BC-STV. It is an electoral system that tries to make every vote count.

How does BC-STV meet the values of many British Columbians?
The Assembly’s decision to recommend BC-STV was based on three values heard from many British Columbians during public hearings, in written submissions and in informal community conversations held across the province:  

  • Fairness of representation – the parties’ share of seats in the Legislature reflects their share of the votes
  • Local representation – communities and regions are represented by elected MLAs 
  • Voter choice – voters have more options on the ballot, and thus more power
Which countries use STV?
Currently, STV is used in Ireland, Australia and a number of municipalities. Ireland has had STV for most of the last century. Despite attempts by its government to change the system, the Irish have repeatedly voted to keep STV.  STV tends to be an unpopular system with politicians since it can be seen to give more power to voters and to reduce party control.

What’s wrong with our current system?
While many British Columbians believe our First Past the Post electoral system works very well, others have expressed concerns.  The Assembly carefully examined the pluses and minuses of both our current system and other electoral systems. One common concern with our current system is that it is not proportional; a party’s share of seats in the legislature does not necessarily reflect its level of voter support.  This has meant, for example, majority governments that got well over half of the seats in the House, but with much less than half of the popular vote. The Assembly believes that BC-STV, because it is a fair and proportional system, best satisfies the needs of all British Columbians.

Why is the BC-STV system not as simple as our current system?
BC-STV is a more sophisticated electoral system, because it gives voters so much more: proportionality, voter choice and local representation.  And for voters, it’s straightforward. A voter simply ranks her favourite candidates on the ballot in the order she chooses.  The Irish have used STV for over 80 years.

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