A question of legitimacy

A column by Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett

In case you hadn’t heard Elections BC has extended the deadline to submit your referendum ballot to Dec. 7 because of the rotating strikes at Canada Post.

The is welcome news because one week before the original Nov. 30 deadline, Elections BC estimated that less than a third of eligible voters had submitted ballots and a mere 18 per cent had been processed.

These are rather troubling results considering this campaign began on July 1. After five months, it is quite apparent that voters in B.C. are either unaware or perhaps unwilling to complete a highly complicated ballot.

Most people I talk to feel they don’t have enough information on the three models of proportional representation proposed or how they differ from our current system.

The ballot should have been a simple Yes or No question.

By offering three different models, one of which was invented by a student at the University of Alberta, and two of which have never been used anywhere else in the world, people are naturally perplexed.

The fault here lies not with Elections BC, but with Attorney General David Eby who designed the ballot in the first place.

In the end, we may end up with questionable results similar to what happened in the 2016 referendum in Prince Edward Island.

Voters chose proportional representation by 52 per cent but the PEI Premier had to nullify the result because only 39 per cent of voters participated.

It looks like we are heading down the same road here in British Columbia. If only a third of voters cast a ballot, we could be facing a situation where less than 17 per cent of voters will determine the outcome.

If you have not already completed your ballot, now is the time before someone else makes the choice for you.

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