Photo by Andrea Marie Tan.
Photo by Andrea Marie Tan.

The deadline of BC’s Voting Referendum was December 7, at 4:30pm. This Referendum was cast by mail-in ballot, and the criteria for voting was residency in British Columbia and to be a current registered voter.

The issue up for vote in the Referendum was regarding the system that BC uses in its provincial elections. The current and only system up until the Referendum was the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system. The proposed change in voting systems would have seen a switch from the FPTP to Proportional Representation.

However, the outcome of the Referendum was decisive. Announced in late December, it was clear that the First Past the Post will be maintained as the provincial voting system moving forward. According to Elections BC, FPTP won with 845,235 votes, or with an overall 61.3% of the votes. On the other side, Proportional Representation only received 533,518 votes, or 38.7% of the votes.

The number of votes counted in the Referendum accounts for less than half of all registered voters in BC, or 42.6% of the total number of registered voters. According to elections BC, as of 2017, there were 3,156,991 registered voters in the province. As of 2017, there was an estimated total population of 4.8 million people.

Low voter turnout is nothing new, and was a problem that plagued Kelowna’s recent municipal elections. While the estimate for registered voters in Kelowna range from 80,000-97,000, in a city with a population of over 127,000 people (as of 2016) only 31,814 cast their vote in the mayoral race.

With low voter turnout, a small percentage of people controls the result for the entire population. In this case, 800,000+ voters out of a voting population of 3.1 million were able to maintain the First Past the Post voting system.