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A referendum of this magnitude needs to be simple and straightforward, and it should provide the clarity citizens need to make an informed decision about how our province elects its representatives. Unfortunately, the current electoral reform question does anything but.

Val Litwin |  October 24, 2018 | Vancouver Sun

Beginning this week, British Columbians began casting ballots that could change how we elect our provincial leaders. We will either keep our current first-past-the-post system or adopt one of three new models of proportional representation. The B.C. Chamber of Commerce isn’t against PR, per se, but given how unclear the referendum process has been, we urge British Columbians to vote “No.”

The last referendum was held in 2009, with a 61-per-cent majority voting against PR (the same happened in 2005). But despite advice to abandon an ill-conceived process, the province has decided to forge ahead. The good news is that British Columbians have another chance to have their voices heard.

I’m always keen to debate how to make government work better for the people who power our province. But the current referendum lacks the fundamental components of democracy: clarity, transparency and legitimacy. The process hasn’t been robust enough to warrant such a critical change to our electoral system, and it’s not being done in a way that best serves the people of B.C.

A referendum of this magnitude needs to be simple and straightforward, and it should provide the clarity citizens need to make an informed decision about how our province elects its representatives. Unfortunately, the current electoral reform question does anything but.

After deciding to keep the FPTP model or switch to the vague category of pro-rep, voters must then rank three new models: dual member, mixed member and urban-rural. Instead of being empowered to make an easily understandable choice between FPTP and a single, well-defined pro-rep model, voters have basically been handed a ballot written in code.

The multi-step voting process is needlessly complex and does not provide an apples-to-apples choice of which voting method is best for the province. The three PR options in question are incredibly complex and require deep understanding to make an informed decision. There hasn’t been adequate education for the electorate on how each model works and what each outcome would mean for British Columbians.

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