Electoral System

ELECTORAL SYSTEM selects members of the provincial LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY. The province is divided into 87 electoral districts, known also as constituencies or ridings (up from 85 at the 2013 election); eligible voters in each district elect one representative MLA to the provincial legislature. Anyone may run for election after meeting certain basic requirements (a candidate must be at least 18 years old and a resident of BC for at least 6 months; nomination papers must be signed by at least 25 qualified voters; candidates must pay a deposit of $100), but candidates are usually nominated by one of the main political parties at meetings within the ridings.

Since 2001, elections are held on a fixed date in May four years after the previous one and the party winning the most seats in the election forms the government. Advance polls are held for voters unable to vote on election day, and results of advance polls are counted along with other votes on election day. The voting age for provincial elections is 18 years or older.

Elections are administered by Elections BC, an independent office of the legislature headed by the chief electoral officer. The Election Act requires candidates and parties to file statements disclosing election contributions and expenses. Elections BC also has responsibility for administering RECALL and initiative campaigns. Constituency boundaries are re-evaluated after every second election by an independent government-appointed electoral boundaries commission. By law the commission must include a retired or sitting judge of the provincial Supreme Court or court of appeal, the chief electoral officer and a third person nominated by the speaker of the legislature. The commission has a mandate to hold public hearings and recommend changes to constituency boundaries based on changes in population. Ideally each district has an equal number of people (about 50,000, according to the 1996 census) but the commission allows deviation up to 25%. In 2020 the most populous constituency was Kelowna-Lake Country with 53,395 people; the least populous was Stikine with 14,250.

Residents of BC at least 18 years old also vote for representatives to the federal Parliament in Ottawa. BC is divided into 42 single-member federal constituencies. Each constituency is divided into polling divisions, and voters must cast their ballots in their designated divisions. See also GOVERNMENT, LOCAL.
See chart for the list of BC provincial and federal electoral districts.