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BC voters stay with first-past-the-post system

A total of 42.6% of registered voters voted 61.3 per cent to retain the current first-past-the-post system in a mail-in referendum. — Screenshot photo

British Columbians have decided to stay the course in regard to Electoral Reform.

A total of 42.6% of registered voters voted 61.3 per cent to retain the current first-past-the-post system in a mail-in referendum in the results released by Elections BC on Thursday. Proportional representation received 38.7 per cent of the vote to change.

“British Columbians have now spoken and chosen to stick with the current voting system,” said Premier John Horgan in a statement on the government website. “This referendum was held because we believe that this decision needed to be up to people, not politicians.

“While many people, myself included, are disappointed in the outcome, we respect people’s decision,” Horgan added. “British Columbians are passionate about our democracy. I want to thank everyone who turned out to vote in such strong numbers and express my gratitude to Elections BC for its work running a fair referendum that engaged people throughout B.C.”

This is the third time in the last 15 years that British Columbians have voted down changing the electoral system in province-wide referendums. The first two failed to meet the threshold for change. In 2005, 57.7 per cent voted in favour of proportional representation, which was just under the government’s 60 per cent hurdle. In 2009, support for pro-rep dropped to 39 per cent.

In 2009, 61 per cent voted in favour of first past the post.

“This was a flawed process from the beginning as the NDP stacked the deck to satisfy the Green Party and remain in power,” said Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson. “This was never been about improving our democracy, it was always about power and control.”

“The rejection of Proportional Representation by the people of British Columbia demonstrates a clear desire to keep political power in the hands of voters,” Wilkinson added.

Elections BC said 1,403,358 completed voting packages were returned to Elections BC by the deadline of 4:30 p.m. on December 7, representing returns from 42.6% of registered voters.

According to Elections BC, in Nelson-Creston riding, 45.3 per cent of the riding voting while 38.9 per cent voted in Kootenay West. In Boundary-Similkameen, 41.1 per cent cast ballots.

“Since forming government, we have been working to make life better for people,” Horgan explained.

“We’ve already banned big money and introduced tough new restrictions on lobbyists to put people back at the centre of our politics. There’s a lot more work to do, and our government is going to keep working with our partners in the B.C. Green caucus to make government work for people in B.C.”