What does PR mean in a Civic Election?

Proportional representation can get complicated, but we’d like to narrow the discussion for you. There are two main proportional voting systems that have been discussed for Vancouver’s civic elections. Both are mentioned in Justice Thomas Berger’s Vancouver Electoral Reform Commission report from 2004, and they are STV and MMP.

Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) is a hybrid system that includes a vote for a local ward representative along with a party vote. The ward vote is counted using a first past the post (or run off) strategy and the party vote is used to assign “top­up” candidates from party lists in order to ensure party proportionality. MMP could work for Vancouver and possibly some other large BC cities, but it would not work for smaller towns where there are no established slates or civic parties.

Single Transferrable Vote (STV) is probably familiar to many British Columbians because it was the system proposed for BC provincial elections by the BC Citizens Assembly in 2005. STV is well suited to local elections in BC because it requires multi­member ridings such as the ones we use throughout BC already, and does not require slates or parties. Pitfalls to STV include a misunderstanding of the process as it is not as simple as MMP or other PR forms, however, it is considered one of the few more accurate forms of calculating vote in relation to proportionality.

If you would like to learn more about PR and other forms of it, visit the Ace Project, a non-governmental online democracy encyclopaedia.


Image courtesy of flickr.com/Kenny Louie

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