B.C. split on favoured voting system, 1/3 still not sure: poll

With less than a month before ballots are mailed to voters, B.C. appears to be headed for a tight race

It appears British Columbians are rather split on whether to change up our current voting system or keep it the way it is – according to a new Angus Reid poll, at least.

Meanwhile, one-third of B.C. voters remain unsure how they plan to vote on this key question.

It’s roughly one month until referendum packages will be mailed to 3.25 million registered voters in the province, asking which of four voting systems are preferred: first past the post – the current way to vote – or one of three proportional representation (PR) systems.

In results to two polls conducted by Angus Reid Institute and released Friday, 31 per cent of respondents said they will vote for first past the post, while 33 per cent said they’d vote for a PR system. Thirty-three per cent aren’t sure, and one per cent said they wouldn’t vote.

Those who favour first past the post also are more certain of their choice, the poll suggests, madeup mostly of those who voted for the B.C. Liberal Party. While 56 per cent of those voters say there is no way they’ll change their mind, only 45 per cent feel as sure about voting for PR.

Roughly half of those who voted for the B.C. NDP favour PR, as well as 46 per cent of B.C. Green supporters.

READ MORE: The 4 options offered for B.C.’s voting referendum

READ MORE: How to get your B.C. referendum package if you’re going to be away

Other key findings include that 61 per cent of respondents believe a system that more closely reflects parties’ actual popular support would increase voter turnout, but they’re torn on the possibility this will lead to minority governments in the future. Roughly 48 per cent don’t like that prospect.

The ballot, mailed out Oct.22, will include two questions: First, if you’d like to keep the current voting system or something different and second, which of the three PR systems you want to replace the old system with.

According to poll results, a mixed-member proportional system is the clear favourite with twice as many first-choice votes as any other option.

While the poll suggests we could be heading for a tight race come Nov.30’s voting deadline, “groups that have historically been more likely to vote – including older respondents and those with higher household incomes – are more likely to say they plan to vote for [first past the post],” Angus Reid researchers said.

“These dynamics drive the months-long campaign, with advocates on both sides having their work cut out to mobilize their bases and convince those on the fence to send in a ballot for their side…”

WATCH: How to start thinking about a new voting system


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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