Why Lesbians Should Vote for STV

On May 12th, British Columbian voters will be asked the following question when we vote:

Which electoral system should British Columbia use to elect members to the Provincial Legislative Assembly?

  • The existing electoral system (First-past-the-post)
  • The single transferable vote system (BC-STV) proposed by the BC Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform

In Brief:

  • BC-STV elects multiple MLAs per riding using a single, fractionally transferred vote from a preferential ballot
  • You rank a number of candidates in your electoral area. Votes distributed according to overall rank. Top-ranked elected.
  • Voting yes to STV on May 12th will radically improve how fair our provincial voting system is.
Photocredit: BBaltimore
Photocredit: BBaltimore

I think that anyone who believes in diversity, democracy and fairness will want to vote Yes for STV on May 12th.

Diversity and Fairness:

The current system (First past the post) only delivers fair results if everyone lives in a riding where they have the same political opinions as all their neighbours.  In a diverse society, we’re going to be living up next to people who are different beliefs from us. STV makes sure that we don’t lose our political representation when we do that.

The data on countries that have STV is that the popular vote (how many votes for each party in all the ridings) matches closely the number of people from each party who get elected. This is the definition of a fair system in my book.

In countries with STV, more women get elected than in countries with our system, and more lesbians and other minorities get elected. Both are good for lesbians.

For example, if little politically progressive me moved back to my home town of Prince George, currently I could kiss goodbye ever being represented by a politician that didn’t make me ill. There would be nobody to represent me. If STV gets passed, most of the elected folks in my district would be conservative, but there would be at least one I could support that got elected.

If I stay in my progressive East Vancouver riding, currently I have to split my conscience between a Green Party candidate who supports my hard core environmental values, and an NDP candidate, who also supports things I believe in but who has a prayer of being elected.

Under STV my voting could be more nuanced. I could have the luxury of voting for a Green Party candidate that supports my environmental values, as well as an NDP candidate.

Similarly, a conservative right-wing person living in my current riding would have some representation if STV is adopted that they wouldn’t have otherwise. We both get what’s fair. With STV every one still gets one vote. The ridings are larger, more like federal ridings, and there are more MLA’s elected in each riding. When you vote, instead of voting for just one person, you are allowed to indicate who your second, third and fourth choices are.

There’s a great little video online that does a good job of showing how the votes get counted. 

How my vote counts more with STV: When my favourite candidate has enough votes to get elected, the surplus votes gets assigned to our second choice. This means that I can vote for a Green candidate and an NDP candidate, knowing that my vote will go to where it does the most good, or even to support two candidates from the same party I like. I don’t ever again have to vote strategically to prevent a bad candidate from getting in. We can all vote our conscience.

How my political opposite’s vote counts more with STV: Although the majority of MLA’s representing their riding will be not to their taste, the conservative family down the street will be part of electing a small number of candidates whose values they agree with. When they need help from a MLA, they now have one with whom they feel comfortable.

So I hope you will vote to make this historic change to the way we elect people to represent us, and help spread the word about BC-STV.

John Cleese on Proportional Representation in England (STV is a type of PR. All of Western Europe uses some form of proportional representation except England)