Unlike the first-past-the-post election system, proportional representation options BC residents are being asked to vote on are not simple.
As the Friday, December 7, voting period deadline approaches, Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons said, despite the complicated choices put before the electorate, people in his riding are engaging in the process.
“Obviously we have until next week to get the final numbers in,” said Simons. “It's a good showing. Powell River-Sunshine Coast often has above-average turnout for all elections whether municipal, provincial or federal. I'm glad that we're in the top few percentiles and I hope we get more.”
As of Wednesday, November 28, approximately 13,335 screened ballots were reported for Powell River-Sunshine Coast, representing 33.8 per cent of eligible voters. Province wide, 28.3 per cent of eligible voters have returned their ballot packages, which is half the total voter turnout for the last provincial and federal elections.
“We had over 60 per cent in the provincials,” said Simons. “We had more than 60 per cent in the federal.”
He added that with the proportional representation ballot, people are not necessarily as engaged. There could be a number of reasons, including voters’ understanding of the counting system under proportional representation.
Simons said the problem with proportional representation is that it is not simple to be knowledgeable about three systems.
“I don't propose that everybody needs to completely understand the system if they get a general sense of how those are counted,” said Simons. “Everybody has their own threshold and quite frankly, I don't always know what level of understanding people have on voting systems, but if you ask people to explain first-past-the-post, it's pretty straight forward.”
Simons said he voted for proportional representation because he believes it would result in better government in the long term by reflecting people's votes more accurately than the current first-past-the-post system. He made his referendum choice public recently.
Simons voted for rural-urban proportional (RUP), his first pick in the second question on the referendum ballot.
“I like the fact the it uses two systems that are known, tested and used in other jurisdictions,” he said. “That was the main reason why I chose that one. People base their decision on a number of different factors and to me that was something important.”