The winner takes it all just fine for an election system

Proportional representation brings up more questions than answers

Here we are talking about a referendum again. All Cowichan Valley residents are surely getting rather sick of it all.

First, it was the proposed City of Duncan-Municipality of North Cowichan amalgamation referendum. That got voted down.

Then, we had the affordable housing and the water protection referendums that were held during the municipal elections. Both passed, but it’s doubtful many people actually knew what the vote was about.

Now we’re on to another one that we’ve known has been coming for a while. It’s the mail-in referendum due at the end of the month on whether to retain the first-past-the-post electoral system or switch to some form of proportional representation.

The first hurdle is many people still don’t even know what first-past-the-post means. Judging by the turnout at our last provincial election that rivals the mediocrity seen in the Oct. 20 municipal vote, most don’t really seem to care, either.

Understanding is always a good start to generating a significant response. Even if you are on top of things and know all about first-past-the-post, chances are things get a bit foggy with proportional representation.

And just to keep it complicated, the mail-in ballot is also asking which of three options you might like if you prefer a proportional representation system.

Few people are likely able to make an informed decision on which of the three options is best.

Long story short, the first-past-the-post system is just fine how it is. The parties that aren’t winning many seats – namely, the Greens – and would stand to gain a lot more in a proportional representation system, simply need to get their voters out to the polls if they want to make more of an impact in the province.

Sure, they receive a larger percentage of the vote than what’s reflected in their number of seats, but proportional representation just makes the provincial election landscape even muddier.

Let’s keep it clear and stick with the status quo. It’s certain less than half of the population’s feelings on the issue will be made known, anyway, because it takes a lot of effort to mail something.

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