Refining electoral reform

Voters in B.C. should cast two ballots, not one, when a referendum on electoral reform is held later this fall.

That according the Fraser Institute, which released a study Wednesday suggesting B.C. adopt a model used in New Zealand, where two separate votes were held.

“How governments get elected is perhaps the most important part of any democracy, and efforts to change the electoral system require very careful consideration,” said Lydia Miljan, Fraser Institute senior fellow, associate professor of political science at the University of Windsor and co-author of Designing a Referendum Question for British Columbia.

In New Zealand, Miljan said two separate referendums were held. The first gauged the appetite for change, the second what the new system should be.

In between the two votes, a legislative committee designed a new electoral system, drew new riding boundaries and put together rules for coalitions and minority governments.

She adds broad support from all regions of the province is needed, given the province's size and population distribution.

“Getting a legitimate mandate to fundamentally change the way citizens elect their governments is no easy task, and it requires buy-in from people across B.C.—not just in a few heavily-populated ridings in the Lower Mainland,” Miljan said.

“If the B.C. government wants to properly and fairly pursue electoral reform, it should hold two referenda that allow voters to truly understand the consequences of change.”

Today is also the last day voters have to fill out an online questionnaire on the subject.

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