Electoral reform engagement closes with record input

David Eby

BRITISH Columbia’s public engagement, to help shape the referendum on how B.C. votes, wrapped up February 28 with more input collected than in any public engagement in the province’s history.

Over the course of three months, the public engagement website received more than 180,000 site visits, with over 88,000 questionnaires completed. Visitors spent time on the site learning about the referendum and voting systems used in B.C. and elsewhere in the world, in addition to spending an average of about 16 minutes completing the questionnaire.

“How we choose our legislative representatives is a fundamental part of our democracy and the strong response to this public engagement underlines the importance of this process to British Columbians,” said Attorney General David Eby. “This input will help shape the referendum process and, ultimately, the decision about the future of our democracy will be made by the people of B.C. in a provincewide referendum.”

British Columbians completed the online questionnaire, offering input on topics such as how the 2018 referendum ballot should be designed, the question(s) it should contain and whether organizations should receive public funding to campaign for their preferred voting system. In addition to the website, the engagement received hundreds of written submissions from people, as well as submissions from more than 30 organizations.

Input gathered will inform a report by the Attorney General, with recommendations for the referendum. The final piece of the engagement process includes work being done by an Indigenous liaison, which should be completed in the coming weeks. The report will be posted on the public engagement website later this spring and presented to cabinet for decision.

Details will then be announced, including the referendum date, campaign period, campaign rules and ballot question(s).

While the online questionnaire is now closed, visit the How We Vote public engagement website for information about different voting systems (available in English, French, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese): https://engage.gov.bc.ca/howwevote/


Quick Facts:

* 180,880 people visited the How We Vote public engagement website between November 23, 2017, through February 28, spending on average 14 minutes on the site.
* 88,547 British Columbians completed the online questionnaire.
* Government introduced the Electoral Reform Referendum Act, 2018, on October 4, 2017, to establish the referendum, which will be held no later than November 30, 2018.
* The referendum will be conducted through a mail-in ballot, with results binding at 50% plus one of the vote provincewide.
* If a new voting system is approved, legislation will be introduced in time for any provincial election held after July 1, 2021.


  1. It is clear there is substantial interest in Proportional Representation, both for and against. Hopefully the materials proposed by David Eby in his role as AG are both informative and thought provoking and will engage British Columbians in a lively debate and a clear process for decision making. I am personally very much in favour of PR and reject the fear mongering that some on the pro-corporate side of the debate have be fomenting. I believe that whatever future wrangling between political parties is necessary in forming future governments in BC is worth the effort to say goodbye to false majority ‘majority governments’ who run roughshod over the sentiments of the substantial majority of voters’ opinions.

  2. PR brings real democracy to election process. All votes will contribute to the final result and each vote will count, thus people who didn’t want to participate in previous elections arguing that their vote didn’t matter won’t have this as a pretext for not voting. There are 85 countries in the world which use PR, most widely used is Party-list proportional representation system.

  3. If we move to PR, then we should also make voting compulsory, adding a “none of th above” category. If this wins any election, government should be cut to a bare minimum and fulfill basic statutory duties on a much reduced salary for 12 months when a new election is then automatically called. This will ensure electoral campaigns are run on the basis of what is important to people and draw them out for an engaging election. Otherwise this seems as a ploy to jerrymander the political landscape and will expose the risk of inefficient coalitions reducing stability, much like the poster child for PR, Italy. Right now the NDP sucks less than the liberals did, but none are the best we can get, yet, at least until we can truly make government representative AND accountable to us, the people…

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