This year, we get to decide how our votes are counted for future elections.
In the past, we have lived with the first-past-the-post system, which means that the candidate who wins the most amount of votes wins the election.
It does not mean that all of the other candidates and parties continue to be represented, even though the remaining parties may have more votes collectively than the winner.
Basically, let’s say the blue candidate wins the election, but only 35 per cent of people voted for them. Another 10 per cent voted for the green candidate, 25 per cent voted for the orange candidate, and 30 per cent voted for the red candidate.
Those other candidates no longer matter. Your vote goes in the trash, and we try again in another four years.
This type of voting system can cause many issues. For one, the winning candidate doesn’t represent the majority of people. It only represents that 35 per cent, and they get to decide how the rest of us live now. But this doesn’t make any sense. There are more of us than them, right?
So, this month we will receive voting ballots in the mail asking us if we would like to change that. Wouldn’t it be better if the blue candidate won 35 per cent of the votes, and received 35 per cent of the seats at legislature? Then all the other parties involved would have their respective representation.
This is called proportional representation, and more than 80 countries around the world operate this way. Only around 60 countries use the first-past-the-post-system. And, in countries that have changed from first-past-the-post to proportional representation, many have been given the opportunity to switch back, but they haven’t.
I still remember my first election day. I was in school for journalism, and I was so stoked to use my civic right to choose who would represent Canada. I had a spat with someone about not voting for who they wanted me to vote for, and I craved more information to make the best judgement. I dove right into policies, and educating myself on who would best represent myself, and the people I cared about.
I understood what first-past-the-post meant, and I wasn’t entirely convinced it was the right way to go about it. Finally, after putting the X in the square, I felt accomplished.
But, my vote didn’t matter. I kicked myself. I was so naive. And ever since then, I have considered if I should put my vote with the party that best represents me, or if I should put it somewhere else to refrain from someone else getting all the power.
I know how I’m voting on this referendum, and I hope you do too. If you don’t, read up about it and make an informed decision.