Mixed Member proportional voting is one of three systems that will be listed on the ballot in BC’s upcoming referendum. The Mixed Member system is used in New Zealand, Scotland, Wales and Germany. It was on the ballot in PEI’s 2016 plebiscite on voting reform and was the most preferred system there, winning 55% support, though the government refused to honour the vote.
How it Works:
With Mixed Member voting, single-member ridings in each region of BC would be reduced in number by up to 40%, with the freed-up seats used to elect regional MLAs. Candidates would run in the single member ridings, just as they do now, and the local candidate with the most votes would be elected.
The regional seats would go to candidates from the region to ensure that the seat share by party closely matches the vote share. The ballot could be the same as what we use now, or we could use a two-part ballot in which all the candidates running across the region are listed. (see sample ballot)
To see how this might work, consider what could happen in Vancouver. Currently, there are 11 seats in the city. If these were elected under Mixed Member, we’d likely end up with 7 new single member ridings and 4 regional (city-wide) seats.
In the 2017 election, BC NDP candidates earned about 50% of the vote in Vancouver, BC Liberals 35%, and BC Greens 13%. Our current system elected 8 BC NDP MLAs, 3 BC Liberals, with no Greens; a proportional result would have been 6 BC NDP MLAs, 4 BC Liberal MLAs and 1 BC Green MLA.
Using Mixed Member, we likely would have seen 5 BC NDP and 2 BC Liberal MLAs elected to the single-member seats, with the regional seats going to 1 NDP MLA, 2 BC Liberal MLAs and one BC Green MLA.
The regionally elected MLAs would all have run in one of the single-member ridings and would likely be the most popular remaining candidates.
Why You Might Like Mixed Member:
You might like the Mixed Member option if you want to keep a ballot that’s very similar to what we use now (or could offer you the additional option of voting for your preferred candidate or party in the region if a two-part ballot is used), and having both a local MLA representing your riding as well as access to additional regional MLAs.
What Could Be Decided After the Referendum:
If voters decide to adopt Mixed Member voting, an all-party legislative committee will work out some final details, such as whether we use a single or two-part ballot, whether voters can choose a specific regional candidate if a two-part ballot is used, and any additional rules related to how names on a second ballot are determined. The Electoral Boundaries Commission will decide the boundaries for the new single member ridings, as well as for the regions.
Like the two other systems on the ballot, Mixed Member will deliver strong proportionality, will preserve the same number of MLAs in each region of the province as we have now, and will 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.