FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Based on the results of Fair Voting BC’s democratic reform survey, Vancouver voters can be reasonably confident that the next city council will petition Victoria a third time to change the city’s charter to allow Vancouverites to choose their own voting system. They can also expect more deliberative dialogue processes similar to the West End Mayor’s Advisory Committee and continued interest in online voting, coupled with some scepticism about whether online voting can be acceptably secure. Depending on who gets elected, there will also be more or less openness to considering new ways to vote that might more accurately reflect voters’ true preferences.
Charter Change: In 2004, Justice Thomas Berger recommended that Vancouver be given the power to choose its own voting system. Two city councils, the first under Mayor Larry Campbell and the second under Mayor Gregor Robertson, petitioned Gordon Campbell’s government for this power but never received a response. Almost all parties and candidates in our survey (including the NPA’s Sean Bickerton and George Affleck), with the exception of NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton and two independents, committed themselves to renewing the city’s long-standing request in the first year of their term.
Citizen Consultation: Likewise, all parties and candidates except two independent mayoral candidates committed themselves to expanding use of citizen consultative processes if elected.
Voting System: We asked all candidates what they thought the public would prefer as an outcome in an election in which 40% of the voters supported Party A, 30% Party B, 20% Party C and 10% Party D. Most respondents chose a proportional outcome (i.e., 4 seats to A, 3 to B, 2 to C and 1 to D). Vision stated that this option would be “the most accurate reflection of voter intention” and the Greens and De-Growth likewise supported proportionality. NPA candidates Suzanne Anton and George Affleck regarded the situation as too hypothetical and declined to answer, while NPA candidate Sean Bickerton affirmed his support for the current system. COPE felt that a slate victory (8 seats for A and 2 for C) would be the most preferred, but argued that a ward-type voting system would remove the need for an electoral alliance.
Online (Internet) Voting: Opinions varied widely on whether online voting would improve democratic engagement and whether it was yet sufficiently robust to trust in public elections. All parties (COPE, Vision, Greens, NPA, De-Growth) felt that it has good potential to improve democratic engagement. COPE believes it is now sufficiently robust and secure to be trusted, Vision feels that particular proposals for implementation would have to be fully considered, the Greens and the NPA’s Sean Bickerton believe it is currently too vulnerable to fraud to be trusted for public elections, and the other NPA respondents (Anton and Affleck) believe that it might be acceptable for public consultation, but not yet for elections.
Full responses from all candidates and parties have been posted on the Fair Voting BC website. We encourage all voters concerned about the democratic reform views of candidates for Vancouver city council and the mayor’s office to visit our site to learn more.