The STV thing

Well, the STV thing…..

I’ve had many calls from people wanting to know where I stand on it. People have stopped me and asked and to be honest, I’ve ducked. “Undecided”, I’ve said. And Mez has heroically sent me messages, info, and encouragement (thanks Mez!). So, where am I at?

First off, the “First Past the Post” system we have now needs to be changed – no question about that. I and the federal NDP are big supporters of Mixed Member Proportional Representation. I understand it. I can explain it. And you still vote for a local representative with the additional list of party candidates that balances a fair representation by population overall. And women and underrepresented minorities have an increased voice and representation. That’s all good. Only problem is, MMP isn’t on the ballot in BC. Single Transferable Vote is.

Now, I have looked at the STV website many times, I voted on it, practised, read the info, and well, I don’t really get it. In fact I defy anyone to explain how STV really works. I can’t quite follow where my vote goes – what with these “fractions” and “may” go here or there. So that’s one problem – I feel loath to support something I don’t quite understand. Then there’s the problem of lack of local representation as the areas are so big. Local representation could get bypassed in the transfer process. I’ve fought long and hard to change the “at-large” system of voting in Vancouver municipal politics – is STV just a slightly better version of it? And then there’s the question of supporting a system that gets more women elected. MMP does that – but I’m not so sure about STV, though Mez assures me, it too, will help increase the representation of women in elected office.

The bottom line? People say to me – this is the best chance we have to get democratic electoral reform through, now and not in the distant future, especially as the last referendum was so close. This is a good point. Like many, I want change – progressive change – and I want to see the cynicism that people feel about politics and the political process change too. Not that STV will answer all that – it won’t. But maybe it’s a first step to affirm change brought forward by citizens, not political parties.

So here I am, in answer to all the questions about my position – I can’t duck it any longer. I’m voting YES to STV. I’m a bit of a reluctant comer to it and I’ve got my issues about it. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the right thing to do, at least for my one vote! If it goes through and it turns out to be a dud, I’ll freely admit it, and work harder for MMP, as hard as it might be to get it. Alternatively, what I really hope is that STV will lead us to the next step of MMP.