Op-Ed: Vote 1 & 2 for PR!

Vote 1&2 for PR HeaderRecently, Elections PEI launched a website and education campaign to let people know more about their options for electoral reform in the upcoming provincial plebiscite. Their website, http://www.yourchoicepei.ca, provides information about each of five electoral options and asks Islanders, “Is it time for a change?”

The PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation answers that question with a big YES. We think it is time for a change, and that the best change would be proportional representation.

Proportional Representation (PR) is an electoral system where every vote counts because the distribution of seats in the Legislature matches the popular vote. If 40% of Islanders vote for the Dog Party, the Dog Party receives 40% of the seats. PR eliminates the unfair advantage the current system (First-Past-the-Post) gives to winners and the unfair disadvantage it gives to all others. This unfair advantage is what confers majority governments and 100% of the power on parties that earn less than the majority of votes.

The current voting is rigged in favour of the parties that have always governed. Both the Liberals and the PCs have benefitted from disproportionate rewards and suffered disproportionate defeats in the past. The flip-flops from one extreme to the other that we have seen in the past are very unstable.

Part of the problem is that the current system renders a large proportion of voters’ votes ineffective – that is, their votes don’t elect anyone. Only votes for the winner in each district count in making up the legislature. Under proportional representation systems, every vote counts. Every vote is effective. Every vote helps decide the composition of the legislature that is meant to represent the will of the voters.

On the plebiscite ballot, there will be five choices for voters to rank from their most preferred to their least preferred. (One of the five choices is the current first-past-the-post system.) There will two proportional representation options on the ballot. We are urging people to “Vote 1 & 2 for PR”! That means we want voters to look for the word “PROPORTIONAL” on their ballot and make the proportional representation options their #1 and #2 choices.

The two proportional options voters will find on the ballot are called Dual-Member Proportional (DMP) and Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP). Both are proportional systems, which means the distribution of seats matches the distribution of the popular vote. MMP is a mixed system, used in countries such as Scotland, Germany, and New Zealand. You get two votes to elect a local candidate and a province-wide party. DMP is a new system, not used elsewhere. You vote once and get two local representatives. Find out more at our website, peipr.ca.

The plebiscite on democratic renewal is our chance as Islanders to give direct advice to government from the people (the voters) about how we vote in provincial elections and how to make that vote count.

No matter who you vote for, an electoral system based on proportional representation benefits everyone by delivering fair results: it’s fair and square — the party with the most votes gets the most seats.

Submitted by Florence Larkin, member of the Coalition for Proportional Representation

Published in The Charlottetown Guardian today: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/2016-08-05/article-4607517/Vote-for-options-1-and-2-for-PR/1

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