Dual Member proportional voting is the first of three systems that will be listed on the ballot in BC’s upcoming referendum. The Dual Member system is a modern take on the two-member riding system that Prince Edward Island has used for most of its history (until the mid-1990s) and was one of two options on the ballot in PEI’s 2016 plebiscite on voting reform. Since BC also used multi-member ridings until the 1990s, Dual Member also echoes our own voting history.
How it Works
With Dual Member voting, BC’s current single-member districts would be paired to create half as many dual-member ridings, so the number of MLAs would be unchanged. The Attorney General also recommended that a small number of the rural ridings remain single member ridings.
All candidates would run in their local dual-member riding. The ballot would be very similar to what we currently use, except that parties would have the option to list two candidates instead of one, and voters would check one box on the ballot, just as we do now.
The first seat in every paired riding would go to the first candidate of the party with the most votes. The second seat would go to one of the remaining candidates in such a way that the overall seat share closely matches the vote share by party.
As an example of how this might work in practice, consider what could happen on Vancouver Island. Currently, there are 14 seats on the Island, so we would end up with seven paired ridings, each with two MLAs.
In the 2017 provincial election, BC NDP candidates earned about 40% of the vote on the Island, and the BC Liberal and BC Green candidates each earned about 30%. Our current system elected 10 NDP MLAs, 3 Green MLAs and 1 Liberal MLA; a proportional result would have been 6 NDP, 4 Green, and 4 Liberal MLAs.
Using Dual Member, we likely would have seen 6 NDP MLAs and 1 Green MLA elected to the 7 first seats in the paired ridings. This means that to balance out the results, the second seats would have gone to four BC Liberal MLAs and 3 Green MLAs.
The MLAs elected to the second seats would generally be elected in their areas of greatest strength. BC Liberal MLAs would likely have been elected in the northern half of the Island, while the Green MLAs would likely have been elected primarily in the southern part of the Island.
Why You Might Like Dual Member
You might like the Dual Member option if you like the idea of keeping a ballot that’s very similar to what we use now, and which will give you two local MLAs (typically from different parties).
Like the two other systems on the ballot, Dual Member would deliver strong proportionality, preserve the same number of MLAs in each region of the province as we have now, and would allow voters to vote for specific candidates. And if we aren’t happy with it, there will be another referendum after we’ve used it for two elections to decide if we want to stick with it.
You can find more details at dmpforcanada.com