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Globe panel: Undecided B.C. voters discuss electoral reform

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is silhouetted against B.C. flags as she greets delegates after presenting volunteer awards at the B.C. Liberal Party convention in Whistler.

Darryl Dyck/The Globe and Mail

This week, we're publishing excerpts from a discussion by our panel of undecided voters on the topic of electoral reform. B.C. voters narrowly rejected the proposed single transferable vote (STV) system in a 2005 referendum, then by a larger margin in 2009, but panelist Nathan Lawko of Victoria wanted to know how strong the support for a ranked-voting system is today.

I like alternative vote (AV) because it allows you to express support for multiple parties, but prioritized. I believe that most people are not staunch partisans and that elements of their views are often found across different parties. I know this may be a contentious view, but I think that the majority governments which arise from first-past-the-post (FPP) can be good for a province/country. Sometimes it is better to move in a direction (even with missteps) than to be mired in the messiness that can accompany a minority government. – Cory Shankman, Victoria

I think the the more important issue is not how we vote, or even the way we vote. The issue is how do we get more voters out to the polls. That means a party that can truly engage the voters, with fresh ideas and concepts. Right now, all we have is the same from all three sides. … I would be in favour of a motion requiring 100 per cent of eligible voters to vote. – Chris Dawson, Nelson

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I guess the main reason I brought this subject up was we seem to have a "spoiler effect," with only the Liberals or NDP having a chance of getting elected. But from what I've seen, everyone hates them, so everyone is almost forced to vote for a group they largely disagree with. … I think FPP is causing us to have a two-party system. – Nathan Lawko, Victoria

It's not the case that proportional systems, such as BC-STV, produce only minority governments. By their very nature, they tend to produce majority coalition governments, in which members of two or more parties agree to work together. Essentially, their modus operandi are decision-by-consensus and co-operation. They HAVE to work together or their government falls. – Chrystal Ocean, Duncan

The FPP method of electing people is antiquated and doesn't apply in our contemporary society. In 2001, the NDP had 22 per cent of the popular vote in B.C., but they only won TWO seats out of 79. That's out-and-out stupid. Our Australian cousins use an STV system and so far they haven't disintegrated into a kangaroo-wallaby-dingo-wombat coalition! … I say let's do it – let's try the STV system. – Anthony Gurr, Vancouver

As an outsider who just moved here, the two things that completely baffled me are the rejection of the HST and BC-STV. In my opinion, these are two major examples of popular rejection of good policy. – Scott Montague, North Vancouver

BC-STV came within [a few] percentage points of passing during the 2005 referendum. That put the scare into the two political parties who gain most from the status quo. While those parties declared they'd not take a position on the referendum, two party insiders and well-known pundits had no such scruples and co-directed the fear campaign against BC-STV for the 2009 referendum. Their essential argument? BC-STV is too complicated. Oh, dear. – Chrystal Ocean

I do not see the advantage of changing to STV. Can someone please tell me how this will engage more voters? It seems like more of a distraction than an actual issue. – Chris Dawson, Nelson

I personally know many people across our country who feel it's not worth voting because they know their ballot is wasted (Think: progressives in Alberta). In any riding that's a known "safe" district, what is the point in someone going out to vote for their never-in-a-lifetime party? They might as well stay home. A form of proportional representation (BC-STV) would engage those voters and get them out to the polls. – Scott Montague, North Vancouver

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