Nov 01

What does it mean to make every vote count?

First past the post is long past its prime. It is a system that was only ever intended to represent ridings, not voters.  But in an age when all citizens have the right to vote, we must also ensure that all those votes count by making sure that all voters are equally represented.

It is strictly true that under first-past-the-post all voters are represented, but the fact is that only about half are represented by an MP they voted for – the other half are represented by an MP they voted against. This is representation in word only – it is certainly not equal representation for all voters, unless we mean “all voters are equal but some voters are more equal than others”.

The lack of fair and equal representation for all voters is the reason that the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens all adopted variations of Fair Vote Canada’s slogan “Make Every Vote Count” in the most recent federal election.

This slogan means that every voter should be represented by someone who they actually voted for.  It means that electing a single MP to represent all the voters in a riding is not enough because not every voter is fairly represented by that one MP.  This is still true if we change the voting system to use a preferential ballot but continue to elect a single representative in each riding.

In order to make every vote count, we must adopt a voting system that ensures that every voter is effectively and equally represented.  By definition, voting systems that work this way are proportional systems.  And vice versa, it’s only proportional systems that make this guarantee. Non-proportional systems like first-past-the-post and single member preferential ballot are not good enough for modern Canada.

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