While the final tally of ballots for the Referendum on Electoral Reform in BC has yet to be given, the message that is emerging is clear.
BC wants change.
According to the running totals at Elections BC. The proposal on switching to the Single Transferrable Vote system has the support of 56.5% of British Columbians. What’s more… that support is province wide. Every riding counted so far supports STV.
Unfortunately, the bar needed to pass this referendum is set very high. 60% is needed for the popular vote. Since Elections BC is only reporting results from 35 of the 79 ridings, there is still a chance that we could reach the 60% threshold… but even if we don’t, the message is clear.
It is disappointing that the vote is so close to passing… and it is frustrating that the bar is set so high. But there is good reason for it to be so high. Changing Electoral Systems is a fundamental change in the operation of our democracy.
Assuming the Yes side does not reach the required 60% I do not believe that that means they have been defeated. A clear majority of British Columbians, from every part of BC and every political stripe, have expressed the desire for change.
I hope that that means the Yes *and* No side, who aren’t necessarily against Reform but rather against STV as a proposal… join forces and lobby hard for the Campbell government to get the message and come up with a plan that would bring Electoral Reform to BC.
BC is also sending a clear message to the rest of Canada. Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and PEI are all in the process of examining their own options for Electoral Reform. This result should give them a boost and perhaps the solutions they come up with will be used and passed in BC in the future.
I am disappointed that BC-STV did not pass… however, I am greatly encouraged that it is so clear that a clear majority of British Columbians are *not* afraid of change and recognize that our current system simply isn’t working. Hopefully we will be able to revisit this question in the weeks and months ahead.