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Witnesses for proportional ranked choice voting at the all-party committee on Electoral Reform

From July 2016 the until the end of October, the all-party committee on electoral reform (ERRE) has been hearing witness panels. In Ottawa, these panels were mainly composed of:

a) Academics with an expertise in electoral reform or a strong enough opinion on it to warrant being invited by one of the parties (not necessarily both)

b) Experts from countries which use voting systems other than first-past-the-post - either neutral experts from an Electoral Commission to speak to procedures, or academic experts to talk about the practical and political implications

c) Representatives of organizations with an interest in the issue

During the three weeks ERRE was travelling Canada holding meetings during which the public was invited to address the committee directly at a public mic, the witness panels portion expanded to include local academics, representatives of local groups, and individuals who have created their own electoral systems for consideration or have a strong opinion on one of the options.


The Best of PR-STV Testimony


Many experts spoke for PR-STV. Not as many as for MMP, but that is not surprising as many guests were involved or had become familiar with past MMP-related commissions/studies in their provinces. Opposition to STV was very rarely expressed by the experts for MMP or PR in general. The best testimony for STV is below:

Michael Marsh and Michael Gallagher - Trinity College, Dublin
(yes, the same Michael Gallagher who invented the Gallagher Index of Disproportionality!)

This testimony is a must-read. Marsh and Gallagher talk in no-nonsense terms about how PR-STV works for voters and politicians in Ireland, and how it affects politics. Highlights:

  • Voters have no problem understanding how to use STV

  • STV gives voters maximum choice between individuals

  • Most voters will just rank the candidates they are interested in (average is 4)

  • STV delivers proportionality in line with European averages

  • The connection with local constituents is very strong because representatives are motivated to earn votes based on their personal work in communities

  • Having choice of candidates from the same party does not disrupt party unity - parties employ strategies to campaign cooperatively

  • Stable coalition governments are the norm

  • Voters are able to elect independent MPs (in Ireland - TDs) if they wish - Independents can run with a chance of winning

Read their conversation with ERRE here! 

Craig Henschel - BC Citizens' Assembly

Craig explains to ERRE why "the BC Citizens' Assembly got it right", how STV means that each MP is elected by almost the same number of voters, the benefits of multi-member districts and voter choice. You can read his testimony here and read his brief to ERRE here. Learn more about the BC Citizens Assembly here.

Antony Hodgson - Fair Voting BC

Antony Hodgson makes a great case for Rural-Urban PR, specifically STV+. You can read his testimony here and Fair Voting BC's brief to ERRE here. Fair Voting BC has an excellent new website explaining MMP, STV, and Rural-Urban PR.


Fair Vote Canada testifies for ERRE

Fair Vote Canada's brief to ERRE on STV and STV+ (under the umbrella of Rural-Urban PR) is excellent. You can read their entire brief here.

Other Presentations of Interest

Associate Professor Jean-Pierre Derriennic (Université Laval, Québec)

Presenting to ERRE in Québec City, Jean-Pierre Derriennic argues for the benefits of STV - moderate proportionality, very few wasted votes, voter choice. You can read his testimony here.


Tim Jones (electoral reform activist in BC)


Tim did not present to ERRE but he held events, met MPs and attended numerous town halls. His brief is an concise summary of the case for STV.

Professor Csaba Nikolenyi (Concordia University, Montreal)):

Presenting to ERRE in Joliette, QC, Professor Nikolenyi argues that the principles of ERRE  are best met through PR-STV - "Anglo Saxon PR". Most memorable line: "It's complex to administer but fabulously easy to use." His brief is not yet available but you can
read his testimony here.

David Blain 

Presenting to ERRE in Leduc, Alberta, David Blain argues that STV is the system that makes all MPs more accountable to voters, gives voters the most choice, and improves local representation. The transcript of his presentation is not yet available but you can
read his brief to ERRE here.

Leonid Elbert

Presenting to ERRE in Frederiction, New Brunswick, Leonid Elbert has created a unique MMP/STV, hybrid, using single member constituencies and regional seats just like MMP, but electing all seats with the Single Transferable Vote, thus giving voters more freedom to express their preferences across party lines and more influence over what individuals are elected. The transcript of his presentation is not yet available, but you can
read his brief here.


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