Provincial elections are an important part of our democracy — and in just a few weeks, British Columbians will have a chance to vote on the province’s voting system.
From October 22 to November 30, 2018, B.C. residents will cast their ballots by mail in a referendum that will decide if B.C. keeps the current First Past the Post voting system, or moves to a system of proportional representation.
What is the referendum?
The referendum will ask B.C. voters two questions. Your ballot will count even if you don’t answer both. The first question is whether or not B.C. should keep its current First Past the Post voting system or move to a system of proportional representation. The second asks voters to rank three different proportional systems in order of preference: Dual Member Proportional (DMP), Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) and Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP).
If a proportional representation voting system is adopted, it must be in place for provincial elections called on or after July 1, 2021. A legislative committee would determine some aspects of how the new system would work. The provincial government has said there would be another referendum after two general elections asking voters if they want to keep the new voting system or return using First Past the Post.
Who can vote — and how
To vote in the referendum, you must be a Canadian citizen, 18 or older on November 30, 2018 and a resident of B.C. since at least May 29, 2018.
Voters can expect to receive their voting package in the mail between October 22 and November 2. Elections BC is updating the voters list now to help make sure eligible voters receive a voting package. If you’ve never registered to vote before, moved recently or have changed your name, visit elections.bc.ca/ovr or call 1-800-661-8683 to make sure your information is up-to-date.
If you don’t receive a voting package in the mail by November 2, there’s no reason to panic — you can request a package online or by phone until November 23, or request one at a Referendum Service Office or Service BC Centre starting November 5.
If you’re going to be away this fall, don’t worry, you can still vote. You can provide Elections BC with a temporary mailing address where they can send your voting package, or you can pick one up at a Referendum Service Office or Service BC Centre.
What can I do to prepare?
Along with conducting your own personal research, visit Elections BC’s website for neutral information about the characteristics of the voting systems on the ballot. Elections BC is there to help you vote, so contact them if you have questions when you get your voting package.
The final thing you can do to prepare for the vote is to, well, vote. Elections BC needs to receive your ballot before 4:30 pm on November 30, 2018, so it should be mailed with plenty of time to ensure your vote is counted. You can also drop it off in person at a Referendum Service Office or Service BC Centre starting November 5.
Your vote is an important decision, and there are lots of resources available to help you make your choice. For more information, visit Elections BC’s website or read their Voter’s Guide. (Election BC website)