So, you want to know what proportional representation means?

As the province prepares to go to referendum this fall on electoral reform, Kamloops This Week wants to inform readers on the new options being offered. The first question on the ballot will ask voters if they wish to keep the current first-past-the-post system.

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A second question — in which voters will choose from one of three forms of proportional representation — will come into play only if the majority of participating voters choose to switch to a proportional-representation system.

If that happens, voters need to understand their options.

Fair Vote Kamloops volunteer Gisela Ruckert visited KTW to explain in plain language the three proposed proportional representation systems: dual-member, mixed-member and urban-rural. She also broke down what new ballots would look like under each system.

Voting will be done by mail-in ballot from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30. The campaign opened on July 1 and closes on Nov. 30.

Fair Vote Kamloops is an organization in favour of ditching the riding-by-riding winner-take-all first-past-the-post system and adopting some form of proportional representation, in which the share of popular vote generally matches the share of seats in the legislature.

Fair Vote Kamloops’ page can be found on Facebook.

A group that wishes to retain the first-past-the-post system is campaigning against a switch to PR. Led by Bill Tieleman, Suzanne Anton and Bob Plecas, Vote No to Pro Rep argues the current electoral system is more stable.

Vote No to Pro Rep’s website is at nobcprorep.ca

Full details on the attorney general’s recommendations that led to the referendum can be found in the provincial report, How We Vote.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has established the rules and responsibilities for the referendum.

The chief electoral officer will approve one proponent and one opponent group, each of which will be allocated $500,000 for the campaign, which will run from July 1 to Nov. 30.

Individuals and groups must register with Elections BC to conduct referendum advertising during the referendum campaign period. The regulations set a $200,000 limit on referendum advertising expenses.

Proponent and opponent groups and other referendum advertising sponsors will be subject to contribution limits and reporting provisions in line with the recent changes to the Election Act regarding election-advertising sponsors.

The chief electoral officer has authority to provide neutral public education about the referendum and the voting systems on the ballot.

The referendum questions will be as follows:

Which system should British Columbia use for provincial elections? (Vote for only one.)

  • The current first-past-the-post voting system
  • A proportional representation voting system

If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following voting systems do you prefer? Rank in order of preference. You may choose to support one, two or all three of the systems.

  • Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
  • Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
  • Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP).

This fall’s referendum will be the third time an issue has been voted on provincially via mail-in ballot. Similar votes were held on the HST in 2011 and on First Nations treaty negotiations in 2002.

© Kamloops This Week

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