Okanagan College political scientist Linda Elmose will lead a free information session and discussion to sift through the options at the Salmon Arm campus from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 at the Salmon Arm campus. (Photo contributed)

Shuswap session to sift through electoral reform options

Okanagan College hosts information and discussion session at Salmon Arm campus

British Columbians are being given the opportunity to vote for a different way to elect their MLAs in the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform.

The referendum on Electoral Reform is fast approaching and voters are being asked to choose between First Past the Post and Proportional Representation.

Elections BC’s website notes First Past the Post (FPTP) is British Columbia’s current voting system.

In FPTP the province is divided into electoral districts and each district is represented by one Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). Voters mark their ballot for one candidate. The candidate with the most votes in the district wins and represents the district in the legislature.

The number of seats a party gets in the legislature equals the number of districts its candidates win. This system tends to elect candidates from large parties and result in single-party majority governments.

Related: Electoral reform vote in BC includes $500,000 each for pro and con groups

Proportional representation is when the share of seats a political party wins in the Legislative Assembly is about the same as the party’s share of the popular vote. So, if a party receives 40 percent of the popular vote, they are likely to have about 40 percent of the seats in the legislature. There are many different voting systems that are designed to produce proportional results.

The issue has stirred controversy among those who wish to remain with the current system and those who would like a different option.

To help sift through the information and better understand the different voting systems, Okanagan College political scientist Linda Elmose will lead a free information session and discussion from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 in Room 130 of the Salmon Arm campus.

Information is also available in a Voter’s Guide to Electoral Reform online at https://elections bc.ca.

Residents will receive a voting package in the mail between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2.

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