By a surprisingly large margin, BC voters said no to a new way of voting that was the subject of an intense and province-wide debate. As of the morning after the vote, 38.82% of voters said no, well short of the 60% necessary for it to pass in the referendum. It would also have needed more than 50% support in 51 or more of the 85 ridings. It only achieved 50% support in 7 ridings. This is a big upset, given that in the previous referendum four years ago, the same system received 58% support.
Why did British Columbians say no to electoral reform? Judging from the debate preceding the vote, they were saying no to STV, one particular form of proportional representation that did not seem well suited for a province like BC. But there was a lot of support for changing the way we vote. Other provinces were hoping that this would pass in BC and result in changes to other provinces and perhaps even the way we vote federally. But BC wasn’t prepared to be a scape goat or guinea pig with such a radical and complicated system. A more commonly used proportional representation system would have been much more likely to pass. The question is, will BC revisit electoral reform again?
Kudos to the four BC ARPA groups that did an excellent job with this election and referendum. Reformed churches in their communities received quality questionnaires and an analysis of the referendum on STV.