Will British Opt for Electoral Change?

Posted by Daniel on Mar 21, 2011 - 3 comments

British Columbians who retain an interest in making changes to the electoral system are doubtless following the debate in Great Britain over the "alternative vote".

The AV is more familiar to us as the preferential ballot, a system by which voters rank candidates listed on the ballot in order of preference. You'll recall that a few years ago a "citizen's commission" recommended that BC adopt the STV, the Single Transferable Vote, a variant of the preferential ballot. The issue went to a referendum in 2005, and was barely voted down. The question was so close that the government held a second referendum during the provincial election in 2009. This time support for the STV took a bit of a dive, the status quo was endorsed, and the matter seemed to have been put to bed, at least for a while.

Not so in Britain, where voters will be invited in a May 5 referendum, to adopt the AV. Unlike here in BC, where in order to pass the new system had to receive 60% of the popular vote plus a majority of the vote in 60% of the electoral districts, the British vote is a straight majority. If 50% plus one of voters say yes to the AV, it will become law.

Should that happen, it will be interesting to see if it breathes new life into the movement for electoral change here at home.