STV for BC - Vote Yes!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Support for STV from Sea to Shining Sea...

...metaphorically that is. Here's a recent quote from Jamie Lee Hamilton, East side activist and author of the 'Downtown Eastside' blog,
"if we elect to change our system to Single Transferable Vote (STV) our vote will have greater impact and provides for greater representation.

How so you ask?

Well for starters, it will make our candidates more responsive to our needs as citizens of this province. In short, it returns Democracy to the People.

STV will ensure broader democracy and greater representation for the people. More women and minorities will be elected. Smaller parties will have a better chance of electing their candidates. Independent minded citizens can run and actually have a chance of winning seats in STV elections. Citizens will be heard and politicians will have no choice but to be accountable to us, the people. Make no mistake Representation Makes a Difference."

and here's a quote from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) (via Joel Johannesen on ''),
"Since 1997 your CTF has been pushing for a referendum on voting change. This came in the wake of the 1996 election where the party receiving the most votes actually lost the election! A BC supporter survey in 2003 revealed 56% of you wanted the CTF to make voting reform our number one democratic reform issue.

After helping found the Electoral Change Coalition of BC in 1997 the CTF presented to the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform in May 2004. In April 2005, director Troy Lanigan embarked on an Interior speaking and media tour in support of a YES vote for the Single Transferable Vote (STV) on May 17th. (Click here for video on STV).

The CTF argues a change in the voting system will provide greater government accountability, provide more choice, strengthen local representation and weaken party discipline."

My (obvious) point is that support for STV stretches pretty broadly across the entire political spectrum. It also stretches across borders: the following is an editorial from former Nirvana bassist, turned activist Krist Novoselic:

"On May 17th, British Columbians will vote on a matter of resounding importance.

Your province will decide whether to upgrade its electoral system by adopting the Single Transferable Vote method.

A yes vote is important for the province. It’s important for Canada. And as a citizen of the USA, I want to tell you how important it is for all of North America.

The United States House of Representatives is an important institution. But if we judge it by competitive races, media coverage and voter participation, the US House falls off the radar. Out of 435 House races, less than 20 were competitive in 2004. The position of House Speaker and majority party were a done deal before any votes were cast and the resulting lack of media coverage confirmed this. In 2002, a scant 37% of Americans turned out for uncompetitive House races. And 2006 doesn’t fare much better

The root of this problem is the single member riding (or district, as it’s called here) with the first-past-the-post electoral system.

The actions of Tom Delay, our controversial Republican House majority leader, are one example of why so many races are uncompetitive. He led the effort to redistrict his home state of Texas to the benefit of his party. (He basically undid the craft of Democrats who tilted things in their favor when they enjoyed the majority.) Using sophisticated demographics, he drew political boundaries that made most Texas Republican voters winners. As a result, many Texas Democrats do not have any representation in their Federal government. And let’s not forget Independents, Greens, Libertarians and others handicapped by skewed single member districts.

The US House is lead by the ethic of “pay to play” politics where special interests buy access to the levers of power. Never mind the democratic principals of fairness and inclusion, redistricting in Texas was nothing less than keeping a tight grip on the lucrative reigns of majority status.

It’s no surprise to say politics and power can breed corruption. STV is not some kind of cure-all but it clearly provides more benefits than the current system used in the USA and Canada.

Because a voter ranks candidates in order of preference, STV provides more real choices, thus increasing competition. Multi-member districts are inclusive – inviting new people and ideas to the table. The lower threshold for election makes better opportunities for grass roots organizing. Multi-member districts temper the problems of drawing political boundaries because it’s harder to exclude people when seats are allotted to reflect the politics of a diverse electorate.

Upgrading to a proportional system like STV takes the power of sophisticated technologies out of the hands of politician demographers and puts it where it rightly belongs – with the voters.

By voting yes on STV, British Columbia will fire the shot heard across the continent. And the sound will carry across North America to Ottawa, Washington DC and all provincial and state capitols in between.

The message will be clear – politics as usual are over.

British Columbia can make history by voting yes on STV. Please lead our continent with the vision of a more inclusive, competitive and 21st century democracy."


And yes, maybe it's true that I've run out of (new) things to say about STV so I'm resorting to quoting others :) Good thing the vote is coming soon - this Tuesday Vote Yes!


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