Referendum on Electoral Reform – A Citizens’ Assembly Member’s Perspective

May 11, 2009

Below is an email about the BC-STV referendum by Craig Henschel, a Citizens’ Assembly Alumnus that I have worked with and think very highly of.

Also, here is an absolutely excellent 6.5min video by Christie Clark about why she supports STV now that she is no longer a politician.


Apologies for the spamishness of this e-mail.  Please pass this on to your address book by Bcc.


As you know, there will be a Provincial Referendum on Tuesday May 12th to determine which electoral system we will use in future provincial elections, First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) or the Single Transferable Vote (BC-STV) as recommended by the BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

You may recall that I was a member of the Citizens’ Assembly.  I’m sending you this e-mail so that you will make a more informed choice on May 12th.  I’m also hoping that you might forward this e-mail on to your friends.

Attached is a flyer I wrote myself.  It provides the most concise information about BC-STV that I could fit onto two pages.  As a member of the Citizens’ Assembly, I thought this perspective might be helpful to voters.

A complete but concise argument: BC-STV is the better system.

BC-STV vs FPTP (see attached flyer)

The simplest argument: Who are you going to trust, voters or people with something to lose?

The 2001 Provincial Legislature determined that the current First-Past-the-Post electoral system is severely flawed and unanimously created the BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform to find a better electoral system.

The Assembly was composed of 160 randomly selected, ordinary, non-partisan voters who spent 11 months learning about electoral systems, consulting with the public and examining how electoral systems work in practice (including all the No STV campaign accusations/issues).

By a 95% consensus, the Assembly recommended to their fellow voters that we adopt the BC-STV electoral system because it would provide:

1. Fair representation (the percentage of seats a party gets would be close to the percentage of votes a party gets),

2. Vastly improved local representation and accountability,

3. More voter choice,

4. More power for voters in determining government policy,

5. Representation by an MLA you voted for (80%+ with BC-STV vs. 50%+/_ with FPTP),

6. Stable government and effective public policy development.

On the other hand, there are the opponents of BC-STV who are almost entirely comprised of ex-MLAs, political insiders, party strategists, big business and big labour; precisely the people BC-STV would be taking power away from.

The No STV ads in the papers, radio and TV are full of inaccuracies, misleading statements and outright lies (I hate to have to say it).  Disappointing?  Yes.  Surprising?  Actually, I was surprised.  Their campaign is about creating fear and division.  Haven’t we had enough of that?

As Members of the Citizens’ Assembly, it would have been virtually impossible for us to mislead the public in this way.  Firstly, we had and have nothing at stake, and secondly, our transparent public process wouldn’t have allowed it.

If BC-STV was really as bad as they portray it, could it ever have been recommended by 160 dedicated voters who worked on the problem for almost a year?  The No STV’s fabricated case against BC-STV is simply way over the top.  We would have had to have been smoking something to have recommended the system they portray as STV.

So, who should we trust?  Ordinary voters or political insiders who would say and do anything to keep their influence?

Do we want a simple system, or one that works properly?  It’s your choice.

Fact sheets:

Citizens’ Assembly Fact Sheet

BC-STV Fact Sheet

BC-STV Counting Process

Some good videos:

Citizens’ Assembly and Animation from 2005 (Description of BC-STV system, voting and counting)

Christie Clark

John Cleese (a UK humorous perspective on STV)

Other Videos

Websites to visit: (Has a nice video about the “complicated” counting system) (for original documentation of the Assembly process) (Fact sheets, videos and other helpful info)

I hope this helps.  The best vote is an informed vote.

If you have found this useful, please pass it on to your friends.


Craig Henschel

Member, BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform

Supporting the Recommendation of The BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

Make Your Vote Count.  Support BC-STV.


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