What about the other options on the ballot - "Preferential Voting" and First Past the Post "plus Leaders"?

In the lead-up to the electoral reform vote, you might hear some people advocate for the other, non-Proportional options on the ballot as 'a step towards proportionality, without being too radical and throwing the baby out with the bathwater!'.

Don't be fooled! Here's the lowdown...

If you like either of these options, we'd recommend placing it as your number '3' preference, after the two proportional options.

Preferential Voting:

Australia has used the Preferential Ballot (a.k.a. 'Instant Runoff' or 'The Alternative Vote' in the lower house for many decades.

It certainly helps voters to feel better when they place their votes, because no-one needs to 'vote strategically': every voter can place their true preferences in order, without having to worry about vote-splitting between similar parties resulting in a party with an opposing ideology being elected.

Unfortunately, Preferential Voting means that not every voter is treated equally: some voters have their 1st-preference votes respected, and some voters have their 1st preferences entirely ignored: only their 2nd-preference (or lower!) votes actually contribute towards electing a representative.

In addition, the results are nearly exactly the same as the current First Past the Post system - it results in disproportionate and false majorities, and extreme, costly swings from left to right every few elections. Preferential Voting is still a 'winner take all' system: some citizens are lucky enough to be 'winners', and some are 'losers', in every election.

With Proportional Representation, every 1st-preference vote counts, every time, and every citizen wins their fair share of political representation.

 

 

First Past the Post 'plus Leaders'

At first, this sounds like an improvement on the current system - especially thinking back to the 2015 election when two of the four party leaders didn't have enough popularity to be elected in their local districts. Many islanders recognize the value in having party leaders from a diverse set of parties - including 3rd and 4th parties - represented in the legislature.

However, the devil is in the detail: party leaders would not run in a local district, and nor would there be a separate vote by all islanders, directly for the leaders. But the leaders of any party gaining over 10% of the vote would still automatically sit in the legislature, without ever having to face a citizen-voter directly. The only voters a leader would ever face are those within their own party's leadership nomination process.

In addition, if a party were to change leaders in between elections, then person who sits in the legislature would also automatically change, without citizens outside the party ever having a say, and without a byelection being held.

In this system, political parties have more power than they have currently - they could simply appoint a leader and know with near-certainty that the leader would sit in the legislative assembly. Because of this, many advocates regard this as actually anti-democratic.

It would add between 2 and 4 extra MLAs to the legislature.

Finally, this option does nothing to change the instability of the extreme swings from left to right that result from First Past the Post systems. As an example, in the year 2000, under the 'plus Leaders' system, instead of having 26 PCs and 1 Liberal, there would have been 27 PCs and 2 Liberals: the results are still wildly disproportional.

Check out the official Elections PEI Frequently Asked Questions about First Past the Post 'plus Leaders'.

 

 

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