The 2018 BC Electoral Reform Referendum

DMP Gets on the Ballot

On February 1, 2018, Sean Graham made a submission to the BC Attorney General outlining how DMP could work in the province and why it offered the best path forward for electoral reform. Four weeks later, the BC Symposium on Proportional Representation published a joint submission recommending that BC consider five proportional voting systems, one of which was DMP.

The BC Attorney General released the How We Vote report on May 30, 2018, which recommended that DMP appear as one of three proportional systems in the 2018 referendum on electoral reform. Of the Attorney General’s DMP specific recommendations, four were particularly important:

  1. That the province-wide vote be used to determine each party’s seat allotment.
  2. That the geographically largest rural districts remain as single-member districts and that votes cast in these districts contribute to the province-wide total (which would ensure that every vote counts).
  3. That independent candidates be elected if they place first or second locally.
  4. That a province-wide threshold be used and set at 5%.

These key recommendations ensured that DMP would produce highly proportional results at the provincial level, address the concerns of rural British Columbians around district size, and be fair to independent candidates.

The BC Government’s acceptance of the How We Vote report marked the second time DMP was included in a province wide vote on electoral reform. After the adoption of the report, Elections BC produced educational material to help voters make an informed decision. An explanatory page for DMP was published, along with the below video.

The referendum campaign started on July 1, 2018. During the campaign, Sean Graham participated in multiple interviews. The most extensive of these was for the July 12, 2018 edition of the PolitiCoast podcast, which can be heard below. He also published a guest article in the Times Colonist explaining why DMP was the best choice to improve democracy in BC.

PolitiCoast Episode 94: Sean Graham’s Dual Member Proportional

Referendum Results

Voting for the referendum ended on December 7, 2018. Initial results were released a couple of weeks later on December 20, 2018. On the first question, 61% voted against adopting one of the three proportional systems included in the second question. As a result, the BC Government did not move forward with changing the electoral system.

In the first round of counting for the second question, none of the systems had a majority of the vote. Rural-Urban Proportional was eliminated, and its votes were transferred to the other two systems. In the final round of counting, DMP secured 37% of the votes, representing over a quarter of a million British Columbians. Mixed Member Proportional won the second question with 63%.