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BC-STV and the single transferable vote

The Citizens' Assembly recommends BC-STV as the best electoral system for British Columbia.

BC-STV stands for British Columbia single-transferable vote system. To help make this decision, the members used three values identified by British Columbians as being important to any electoral system: local representation, proportionality and voter choice.

Below, you'll find resources to help explain BC-STV and STV systems in general.

>> BC-STV or PR-STV?

The technical name of the system recommended for British Columbia is PR-STV, or proportional representation by the single transferable vote. PR-STV is a family of systems rather than one system.  The members of this family are very closely related but they differ a little at the edges. This means that they all subscribe to the same principles, but some of the details vary. BC-STV was designed to meet the specific needs of British Columbia. Caution should be used in taking information from other countries and applying it to British Columbia.


A definition of single transferable vote (STV) from the Assembly glossary

Fact sheets on the Assembly's recommended BC-STV model, as well as BC's current SMP system

A fact sheet on how votes are counted in the BC-STV system.

A flow-chart diagram showing how the basic counting concept works.

A set of animations that look at BC-STV and B.C.'s current First Past the Post system

And a precise and detailed example of counting under BC-STV, using the Weighted Inclusive Gregory method of handling transfers of "surplus votes".

A backgrounder on the Assembly and BC-STV

And, a general fact sheet about the PR-STV electoral system family, one of 14 fact sheets available

STV learning materials from Week 4 of the learning phase (February 21, 2004):

The Assembly's decision to recommend STV:

  • Audio and video recordingsof the Assembly decision weekend are also available. See Parts 59-60 for the Assembly debate and the vote about which system is the best alternative system for British Columbia, MMP or STV.  In Part 62, the Assembly passionately compares FPTP, our current system, to STV, the best alternative electoral system, then votes to recommend an STV system to British Columbians
  • A report and resources from the decision weekend, October 23-24

A brief description of PR-STV from the ACE project

A flow-chart diagram showing how the basic counting concept works.


The Irish electoral database provides an animation to show how preferences were distributed in each multimember district for the last few Irish general elections.  When you enter the site, pick an electoral district (top left pulldown menu) and then press 'next count' repeatedly to see the transfer of preferences.  Note that some electoral districts have 4 members, some 3 and some 5.

For very detailed descriptions of PR-STV systems in Australia, see this Australian Electoral Council webpage.  This site is heavy on the technical details and - a caution here - it describes PR-STV electoral systems with features that the Citizens' Assembly has not not included or has varied in the version recommended for British Columbia (as in the case for filling casual vacancies, for example).  This site can be helpful but it should be used with care when assessing PR-STV for BC.

With the same caution as mentioned above, the Tasmanian and Australian Capital Territory electoral office sites have a useful description of PR-STV (often called the Hare-Clark system in Australia) as used in these jurisdictions.

During the counting of an STV election, a candidate may receive more than the minimum number of votes required to win a seat in that district. The excess votes are known as "surplus votes". To ensure that everyone's votes count toward electing a candidate, there are a variety of ways to transfer of these surplus votes in a fair and repeatable method. The following academic article reviews a change in procedure for transferring vote surpluses made to the Australian Senate’s STV electoral system in 1983. Read this article, by David Farrell and Ian McAllister, from the Australian Journal of Political Science - who also provides a free electronic table of contents alerting service for a variety of academic journals.


Citizens' Assembly news release recommending STV as the best electoral system for BC

Recent articles about the Citizens' Assembly
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