The likely answers are 'No', 'No', and 'Yes'.
These questions have not yet been tightly defined in the legislation for PEI. We wish they were already answered, so that islanders could have more certainty going into the vote! But ultimately, they aren't make-or-break considerations.
Read on for our recommendations for how these rules should be set up, based on experiences from other places that use Mixed-Member Proportional voting.
If the referendum 'yes' vote passes, there will still be a period of public input when the exact legislation is written, debated and ultimately voted upon in the legislature.
The system rules can be adapted, to further evolve over time (without requiring a referendum!) as PEI gets practice working with the MMP system.
COULD SOMEONE HAVE A 'SEAT FOR LIFE'?
No. If their party does better next time and wins more local seats, that list seat evaporates. It’s only there to top-up the local results if necessary.
In addition, if a list MLA performs poorly, they will lost votes at the next election, and won't be re-elected - islanders can hold list MLAs directly accountable.
Also, some countries with MMP have rules that limit a 'list representative' to serving 2 terms only - after this period, they would need to be elected within a district seat. This encourages list MLAs to establish constituency offices and try to win a district seat in future elections. We recommend that a similar rule be applied for PEI.
COULD SOMEONE BE ELECTED WITH NEAR-ZERO VOTES?
While there are no rules about this defined yet, we feel that this scenario is quite far-fetched, because parties will craft high-quality and diverse lists, where each candidate will be strong enough to attract thousands of votes in their name.
If a party runs nine list candidates and elects two, that second candidate will need more votes than the other seven list candidates to be elected.
The 'Peter Bevan Baker effect' has got people talking on PEI - what if he personally attracted 30,000 votes in his name, enough for the Green party to be awarded many extra seats from the list... what if the 2nd and 3rd people on the Green party list only had 100 votes in their name? Could they be elected?!
However, it is also easily prevented, by applying a minimum threshold, such as 800 votes, for an individual to be elected from a list. We recommend this rule for PEI, even though we expect it would rarely need to be invoked.
800 votes is comparable with the minimum number of votes currently required to win a district seat where there is a 4-party split.
COULD SOMEONE RUN FOR A DISTRICT SEAT AND ALSO ON THE LIST?
Important to remember is that the nine provincial MLAs will each live in a district somewhere, whether they are also a local candidate or not. They will establish a constituency office and will build connections with a local community - especially if a '2 term list-seat limit' is applied, as we suggest above.
In other MMP systems we are aware of, 'dual candidacy' is allowed. There is currently no proposal that it would be disallowed on PEI. We think this is good.
Of course, if someone is elected at the district level, they can't be elected twice and also win a list seat! Their name would be eliminated from the island-wide list.
'Dual candidacy' is one way that party leaders - who often have a high Island-wide profile, but limited tim to campaign in their own district - could be more likely to win a seat in the legislature. There have been a number of times in island history where strong party leaders have not won their own seats - in some cases by only a margin of 20 votes!
To be on both a district nomination, and also on an island-wide list, a candidate would need to win both nominations; they would need to win the support of party members in the district, and also nominate for the regional list, and win support from party members in other districts.
Parties could choose whether they allow a maximum number of district candidates (3 or 4?) on the island-wide list of 9. It would not be strategic for them to create their entire regional list from district candidates alone, so a limit would be in the party's self-interest.