(Erin Haluschak)

B.C. referendum rejects proportional representation, Vote PR releases statement

More than 61 per cent of participating voters opted to stay with the current first-past-the-post system.

The B.C. government’s options for proportional representation have been rejected by voters in a mail-in referendum on electoral reform. Results were announced Thursday afternoon in Victoria.

The referendum offered a choice between the traditional first-past-the-post voting system, essentially a separate election for each of B.C.’s 87 provincial seats, and three variations on proportional representation to make the number of seats match more closely with the party’s share of the province-wide vote.

Related: B.C. referendum rejects proportional representation

Related: Results coming today on B.C. voting system referendum

Following the results, Vote PR representatives released statements of disappointment regarding the decision but also voiced their appreciation of all British Columbians who supported them.

“We ran a campaign that focused on presenting a positive vision of fairness for all voters, and on showing how a new way of voting would work better for everyone,” said Vote PR BC spokesperson Maria Dobrinskaya. “We’re proud of the positive information campaign we ran. We didn’t resort to fear tactics or distortions, as our opponents did. Instead, we focused on a respectful, positive debate based on facts.”

Fair Vote Vernon, in conjunction with Fair Vote Canada BC also congratulated the 1.4 million B.C. voters who participated in the referendum.

“We knew it would be challenging to help the public learn enough about Pro Rep to feel confident in giving up the status quo, especially with three systems on the ballot. In the end, a majority of voters chose to stick with what they knew. We respect their choice,” said Dobrinskaya.

This marks the third time such a referendum has failed. The referendum cost about $15 million to stage, with more than four million ballot packages mailed out to registered voters. More than 61 per cent of participating voters opted to stay with the current first-past-the-post system.

“It’s clear from this result that many voters continue to feel disenfranchised from and excluded by our current system. People have real and legitimate concerns with politics as usual, and it’s incumbent on those who have defended the status quo to work with all the citizens of BC to make our democracy more responsive to the needs and will of the people,” said Vote PR BC President Antony Hodgson.

But, despite the results, he said the fight isn’t over.

“The principle of voter equality that underlies the drive for proportional representation is more relevant than ever. Canadians continue to be frustrated with the outcomes of First Past the Post elections, and with governments who don’t accurately reflect the will of the electorate. The conversation on democratic reform will continue until these problems have been adequately addressed.”

Related: Why you should vote for proportional representation — and why you shouldn’t

Related: Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

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