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Recommended reading

If you wish to learn about electoral systems and have access to a public or university library, many introductory texts on Canadian or comparative politics have a section on electoral systems and voting.

Here is a list of recommended readings that could be of interest to anyone wanting to know more about electoral reform or the process of dialogue. 

[This website also offers online some easy-to-read fact sheets about electoral systems. And about the BC-STV system that it recommended for B.C.]

Electoral Systems

The research staff at the Citizens' Assembly do not endorse the following books and articles.  However, the texts are useful to illustrate some of the issues that were considered by the Citizens' Assembly:

  • Amy, Douglas. Behind the Ballot Box: A Citizen's Guide to Voting Systems. New York: Praeger Publishing, 2000.
  • Blais, André and Elizabeth Gidengil. Making Representative Democracy Work: The Views of Canadians. Vol. 17 of the Research Studies. Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, Toronto, 1991.
  • Blais, André, and Louis Massicotte. 'Electoral Systems', In Lawrence LeDuc, Richard G. Niemi and Pippa Norris (eds.).  Comparing Democracies:  Elections and Voting in Global Perspective.  Thousand Oaks:  Sage Publications. 1996.
  • Blais, André. 'The Debate over Electoral Systems', International Political Science Review, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1991, p. 239-260.
  • International IDEA Handbook of Electoral System Design. Visit their website to read it online or to order it in hardcopy.
  • Interparliamentary Union. Parliaments of the World. Vol. I. 2nd edition. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1986.
  • Farrell, D. Electoral Systems: a Comparative Introduction. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.  This book is the one issued to Assembly members as a reference book.
  • Jackson, Robert and Doreen. Politics in Canada: Culture, Institutions, Behavior and Public Policy. 2nd edition. Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall Canada, 1990.
  • Law Commission of Canada. Voting Counts: Electoral Reform For Canada. 2004. Visit their website to read it online or to order a free copy.
  • Leonard, Dick and Richard Natkiel. World Atlas of Elections: Voting Patterns in 39 Democracies. London: The Economist Publications, 1986.
  • Lijphart, Arend.  Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-six Countries.    New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999.
  • Loenen, Nick. Citizenship and Democracy:  A Case for Proportional Representation. Toronto: Dundurn, 1997.
  • Mackie, Thomas T. and Richard Rose. The International Almanac of Electoral History. Glasgow, Scotland: Center for the Study of Public Policy, University of Strathclyde, 1997.
  • New Zealand, Electoral Referendum Panel. The Guide to the Electoral Referendum. Wellington, 1992.
  • Norris, Pippa.  Electoral Engineering: Voting Rules and Political Behavior. Boston: Cambridge University Press, to be published Spring 2004.  Draft chapters available online.
  • Reynolds, Andrew and Ben Reilly. The International IDEA Handbook of Electoral System Design.  Stockholm, Sweden: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 1997. Available online.

  • The Richard Commission (on the powers and electoral arrangements of the National Assembly for Wales) reported that the Welsh assembly needs to increase in size, and recommended that it move to the Single Transferable Vote (STV). The report is a long one: Chapter 12 deals with the electoral system and why the commission believes it should be changed.
  • Vancouver electoral commissioner Tom Berger’s report, A City of Neighbourhoods , recommended that the city adopt the single-member plurality (First Past the Post) electoral system for city council elections but keep the at-large system for electing the Parks Board.
  • The Independent Commission to review Britain's Experience of PR Voting Systems has produced a comprehensive report entitled Changed Voting Changed Politics: Lessons of Britain's Experience of PR since 1997.
  • The Ontario government has introduced a bill in the provincial legislature providing for fixed election dates (first Thursday of October every four years from 2003).
  • Premier Pat Binns of Prince Edward Island announced in late May that he will appoint a commission to come up with a prospective new electoral model for the province.
Dialogue and Group Decision-Making


  • Many of the written submissions to the Citizens' Assembly include downloadable articles and offer links to informative websites.  View the Submissions

Members of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform looked on summer 2004 as a Reading Break — two months of study, reading, review and homework.

Their reading list included submissions given to the Assembly in writing, the summaries of formal presentations made at 50 public hearings by more than 370 individuals and groups, all over B.C., in May and June; the latest developments in the field of electoral reform. and their main textbook: Electoral Systems: a comparative introduction, by David M. Farrell (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2001). ISBN 0-333-80162-8 (paperback), 0-333-80162-X (hardback)

We also have more reading online: an overview of what Assembly members heard at the public hearings, and the news releases that the Assembly issued after each public hearing. We also have online lectures and presentations members heard during their "learning phase" in January through March. The materials include documents, PowerPoint presentations, audio, and video. For all these, check out our Learning Resources menu.

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