An Introduction to Fair Voting Models for BC

These pages focus on the proportional systems on the ballot in BC’s referendum.

QUICK LINK: Dual Member Proportional
 Mixed Member Proportional
QUICK LINK: Rural-Urban Proportional (also called Flexible District PR)

QUICK LINK: Single Transferable Vote (STV) 
Note: Single Transferable Vote is not on the ballot in BC’s referendum but is a key component of Rural-Urban Proportional. With Rural-Urban Proportional, STV would be used in the urban and semi-urban areas.

All of the proportional systems on BC’s ballot are a huge improvement over our current system, first-past-the-post.
All three systems share these attributes:

  • Proportional results
  • Retain MLA accountability to a specific geographic area (local or regional)
  • Real names on the ballot – not just parties
  • No region to have fewer MLAs than now
  • No significant increase in number of MLAs
  • 5% provincial threshold to get proportional seats
  • Simplicity for voters

The Basics

Proportional representation is a principle underlying a voting system: People should be represented in proportion to how they voted. The percentage of seats a party has in the legislature should reflect the percentage of people who voted for them.

With made-for-BC proportional representation, almost every vote will count towards the make-up of the legislature.  Almost every voter will help elect an MLA who shares their values.  All regions of BC will have representation in both government and the opposition. A single party will no longer be able to attain a majority government with just 40% of the vote, and cooperation and compromise will become the norm.

There are several different ways proportional systems can be designed. Fair Vote Canada BC is pleased that that the proportional systems BC voters will choose from in the 2018 referendum are “made-for-BC” designs – maintaining strong local and regional representation, and ensuring MLAs are elected by the voters, not chosen by the parties.

This effectively eliminates any system with province-wide closed lists.

A Framework to Think About Systems

There are 3 types of models to choose from when designing the best proportional system for BC:

Top-up models: 60% of the MLAs will be elected as they are now (first-past-the-post), in larger single member ridings. We will also elect at least 40% regional MLAs to ensure results in each region are proportional. As a voter, you can go to your local MLA or one of your regional MLAs, with a choice of MLAs from different parties.
System NamesMixed Member Proportional (MMP)

Multi-member models: Combine single member ridings to elect several MLAs in a local district, producing proportional results in each local district. As a voter in multi-member district, you can go to any of your local MLAs, with a choice of MLAs from different parties. 
System NamesSingle Transferable Vote (STV)

Combination: Features of both multi-member and top-up systems can be incorporated to allow for BC’s varied geography. Multi-member ridings can be used in urban areas. A few single member ridings, not much bigger than today, will be retained in the most sparsely populated parts of BC. Just a few regional MLAs  would be needed to ensure the results in each a region are proportional. As a voter you can go to your local MLA(s) or regional MLA(s).
System Names: Rural-Urban Proportional (also known as Flexible District PR)

NOTE: Dual Member Proportional (DMP), the first system on the ballot in the BC referendum, is not included on this diagram because it is a hybrid system – with elements of both “top up” seats and “multi-member” ridings. You can read more about Dual Member Proportional here.
Gisela Ruckert, President of Fair Vote Canada BC and leader of Fair Vote Kamloops, explains the three pro rep options on the second part of the ballot to Kamloops This Week.