South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings addressed questions at the end of the Electoral Reform Town Hall held in Castlegar on Thursday.

South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP holds Electoral Reform Town Hall in Castlegar

West Kootenay residents weighed in on electoral reform at MP Richard Cannings' Electoral Reform Town Hall in Castlegar.

West Kootenay residents weighed in on electoral reform at Thursday night’s Electoral Reform Town Hall in Castlegar.

The town hall was hosted by MP Richard Cannings, who was gathering information to submit to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) created by the House of Commons on June 7, in keeping with the promise made by the Liberals during the last election. The ERRE’s mandate is “to identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems to replace the first-past-the-post system, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting.”

Attendees at the town hall discussed all three of these issues, as well as the possibility of lowering the voting age to 16. Of the 16 people who spoke at the town hall, 14 made it clear they supported some form of proportional representation (PR) electoral system where the number of seats a party holds in the House is equal to its percentage of the popular vote while one said he needed more time to consider the different voting systems, and another spoke to voting age and mandatory voting without addressing the voting system issue.

The two most discussed voting systems during the evening were mixed-member proportional (MMP), which is is supported by the NDP, and single transferable vote (STV).

MMP is used in nine countries in the world, including Germany and New Zealand. Voters have two votes per ballot one vote for a local candidate and the other for a party and parties can win both constituency seats and list seats. Constituency seats are won using first past the post system, while list seats are used to top up a party’s MPs so that its number of seats matches its percentage of the popular vote. Before the election, parties choose and rank the list candidates, and how many are elected depends on how may top up votes the party gets. There is a minimum threshold of votes that a party needs to hit before it gets a seat.

STV is used in two countries, Ireland and Malta, and is considered semi-proportional, as the results are relatively proportional and grow more so with larger ridings that have more MPs. Voters rank candidates on their ballots, usually voting in more than one MP for their riding. For a candidate to be elected, they have to receive a certain quota, which is calculated based on the number of votes in a riding and how many seats are available. When a candidate reaches the quota, excess ballots are transferred to the voters’ next choice. If no candidate reaches the quota, then the candidate who’s in last place is eliminated, and those votes are transferred to the voters’ second choice. This continues until all seats in the riding are filled. The process of counting votes can’t begin until all votes are in and it may take some time before the results are determined.

There wasn’t much support for mandatory voting at the town hall, but one woman said she’d consider it. Speakers were both in favour of and against online voting. Those for it hoped it would encourage more people to vote, while those against had security concerns. Many were in favour of lowering the voting age to 16.

Those who weren’t able to attend or who have more to say can submit a brief to the ERRE or fill out an online questionnaire by visiting parl.gc.ca/Committees/en/ERRE before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7.

Just Posted

BC senior championship: Tie breakers to decide men’s, Richter goes undefeated in women’s

Marilou’s Richter’s Penticton/Kamloops team cruises to final with perfect record.

Maglio Building Centre sold to RONA

The stores in Nelson and Trail will remain open

Firefighters extinguish early-morning blaze in Rossland

Neighbour alerted family of four, no injuries reported

Nominations open for Trail-Warfield Citizen of the Year

Award presented annually for a person or group with an outstanding record of community service

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read