Voters who support a particular party should be able to vote freely for that party and expect to have their vote count.
Right now in BC there is a public debate about strategic voting, particularly related to the Green Party. In many ridings the Greens are running third, with little chance that they will win the seat (according to polls). So one of the other two main parties see the Green vote as a potential spoiler.
In particular, where the second plus third place parties could easily overturn the top placed party, this plays out as NDP candidates wishing out loud that Green voters would help them win agains the Liberals instead of voting for a Green candidate who won’t win anyway. The Green Party naturally objects strenuously to this attitude.
The Green objection is absolutely warranted.
The problem is entirely a result of our voting system. It is completely fixable just by choosing a voting system that works proportionally, and there are plenty to choose from. This is a problem that should be fixed!
What we need to do is choose a voting system that counts every vote towards electing a representative. If a party gets 20% of the vote, it is not a spoiler vote, it is a positive vote, and that party should fairly receive its 20% of the seats.
This is in contrast to our system, which counts every vote against the others in the same riding to choose a winner in that riding. The result is that large numbers of voters for one party or another end up represented by a third party that none of them may have wanted.
The purpose of an election is to choose the MLAs who will sit in the legislature. Different voting systems do this in different ways. Our voting system does it in a way that leaves about half of all voters represented by MLAs they didn’t vote for and that’s what leads to the pressure to vote strategically, or in some safe seats even persuades people that there’s no point in voting at all.
Surely we want to ensure that the political makeup of the legislature is a good reflection of the political wishes of the electorate. The fact that our system doesn’t do that most basic function of voting systems should disqualify it from use altogether.