According to Fair Voting BC, regardless of which party won the most seats last night, it was certain that half the voters would remain unrepresented for the next four years.
“We honour all those who care enough about our public life to run for office and to come out and vote”, said Fair Voting BC president Antony Hodgson, “but we also sympathize deeply with those who feel that there’s less and less point voting.”
“The fact is that nearly half the voters will now have to suffer being ‘represented’ by an MLA they don’t support. There is no excuse for disenfranchising so many people when almost all other advanced democracies vote in ways that guarantee that nearly all voters help elect a candidate they support.”
Voter turnout in last night’s election also dropped significantly and ended up below 50% for the first time (~49% vs 51% in 2009). Initial estimates suggest that 10,000 fewer people voted this year, despite BC’s population growing by over 200,000 people during the past four years.
“This drop shows there’s an increasing disconnect between the people of BC and the politicians who claim to represent them,” said Hodgson. “Premier Clark recognized this problem four years ago when she said, “Every year, as we get more frustrated [with the way our political system operates], fewer of us take the time to exercise our franchise – our most important democratic right.” This frustration and disengagement poses an increasing challenge to the government’s legitimacy. The new government must treat this growing threat seriously and take meaningful, significant and conscious steps to re-engage the public in our core political processes.”
“Voting reform is the first and most important change we must make,” said Hodgson. “Premier Clark understands this and knows that it won’t be easy. As she said in 2009, “many of the people who are actively campaigning against [voting reform], … relish the ugly realities that are the consequence of our first past the post system.””
But she added, “We have a choice, perhaps a once in a lifetime choice, to do things differently. We have a chance to change our political system and remake it into one that we can have some measure of faith in. If the established interests succeed in defeating this [in 2009], they won’t give you another chance.”
Now that Ms. Clark has been re-appointed Premier, she has the power, the responsibility and a rare opportunity to revitalize our democracy. Fair Voting BC asks the Premier, does she have the courage to take on the established interests and follow through on her convictions about the deep and abiding need for voting reform?