Editorial: Change is always hard to take

No voting system is perfect, but it could be better

With the civic election just finished and federal parties ramping up for 2019, trying to absorb information about B.C.’s electoral reform might seem like just too much to handle.

Especially with the amount being blasted at us from both Yes and No camps.

In many ways, the question can be reduced to choosing between the drawbacks of each system.

The current first-past-the-post system’s most obvious drawback is that we routinely end up electing candidates that more people voted against than for. Three candidates for the same seat means one of them can win with as little as 34 per cent of the vote.

On the other hand, proportional representation is likely to bring more minority governments, and more frequent elections as coalitions fall apart.

Looked at that way, neither FPTP or proportional representation is perfect, though FPTP brings to mind Winston Churchill’s quote: “it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried.”

The same might be said of FPTP — it works, why don’t we just stick with it? The answer would be that it only appears to work. Each election, the governing of the province is handed over to a party whose ideals aren’t necessarily supported by the majority of voters.

Proportional representation, despite its faults, results in more democratic representation. If parties want to get their legislation passed, they have to work with each other.

That’s not such a bad thing, is it?

Just because first-past-the-post has stumbled along for so long does not mean it is the best system. We need to be flexible and willing to experiment a little to find a system that might give better representation to the peoples’ voice.

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