Vote Splitting and Electoral Reform



Kristina Calhoun is a guest writer and leader of the Yukon Green Party. This letter to the editor was published in the Whitehorse Star September 6, 2011

Re: Putting the axe to vote splitting, election inequities and
electoral reform – will we ever get a fair vote?

Unfortunately under the present electoral system, First Past the Post
(FPP), the fears of vote splitting, the pressures to vote “strategically”
and the unfairness of the election of false majority governments by a
minority of votes are all too real.

Most Yukon voters we have spoken with, at least those not constrained
by strong party affiliations or philosophical dogmas, would welcome
the opportunity to participate in elections by supporting their choice of
the best local candidate without being pushed by these fears,
pressures or unfair results.

If we don’t vote for the best qualified candidate then the best we can
expect to get is second best, or worse third best! And under FPP you
likely will have had no say as to the ranking of the other lessor two.
Obviously the current FPP system is subject to abuse, is undemocratic
and discourages voter turn-out. So what can be done?

The Yukon Green Party has researched electoral systems currently
used in other modern democracies in Europe, Australia and New
Zealand. We support a modified Australian Preferential Ballot (PB)
method as the simplest and best fit for a new Yukon electoral system.
Other proportional voting systems are more statistically accurate and
therefore are considered by some to be fairer. But they have the very
real draw backs of being overly complicated, cumbersome and
expensive. Plus there is the actual possibility that some candidates
may be appointed to an assembly directly by their party rather than
being elected by their constituents.

Under the PB system Yukon voters would mark their first, second and
third choices as to whom they would prefer to have represent them in
the Legislative Assembly. For a candidate to be elected, he or she
would have to get a clear majority of first and second (possibly third)
choice votes cast for them. The candidate receiving the fewest first
choice votes would be knocked out and the second choices on their
ballots would be added to the remaining candidates first choice counts.
This knockout and second vote distribution process would be repeated
for the candidate with the next lowest first choice votes and so on until
one of the remaining candidates achieved a true majority of first plus
second choice votes.

At one time or other, each of the old line political parties
(Conservative/Yukon, NDP and Liberal) while in Opposition have
discussed and flirted with the good idea of electoral reform. But as
soon as they have wrested the reins of power through a FPP false
majority win, i.e. with less than 50% of the popular vote, suddenly
somehow the idea is no longer worth considering. The Preferential
Ballot voting system could be implemented very quickly by relatively
minor amendments to the Yukon Elections Act as approved by a simple
majority vote of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. No other Yukon Acts
or Canadian Laws prevent Yukon from scrapping FPP and replacing it
with PB. PB works Down Under and it can Up Here!

It is interesting to note that in recent party leadership conventions in
Yukon and B.C. the leaders, Darrell Pasloski and Christy Clark,
were both elected under a Preferential Ballot system!

In this upcoming Yukon election, to date, the YUKON GREEN PARTY is
the ONLY political party actively advocating for ELECTORAL REFORM.

The Yukon Green Party supports the Preferential Ballot as the best
democratic electoral process and is convinced that it would ultimately
convert vote splitting fears to vote sharing optimism.

Kristina Calhoun,
Leader, Yukon Green Party

Sign Created by Inkspirationz Graphix - Photo by Norm Hamilton

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4 Responses to Vote Splitting and Electoral Reform

  1. Mike Tribes says:

    It’s interesting Kristina, that you and I have talked personally about electoral reform and the NDP approach to electoral reform, which was actually introduced by Todd Hardy and Steve Cardiff years ago, and yet you still say, in bold letters, that the Green Party is the only party actively advocating for electoral reform.

    I personally advocate for it while canvassing, and it is published in our party platform.

    I like a lot of what is in the Green Party platform and vision. I hope much of that vision becomes reality. But let’s work together to bring about this change. There are 2 parties actively promoting electoral reform, and if we acknowledge that, it becomes more relavent and maybe will become a reality.

    Mike Tribes
    NDP Candidate Porter Creek North

    • Norm says:

      Hi Mike.

      Can you point me to the location on the NDP website where electoral reform is being talked about please? I’d like to have a read on it and I’m having some difficulty locating it.


      • Citizen Jane says:

        I came across this question by accident and saw an opportunity to be helpful. I found the platform excerpt below in 30 seconds by googling “NDP platform” and then using “find” with the search term “electoral”.

        7.3 Making your Vote Count
        We will propose electoral reform to ensure Parliament reflects the political preferences of Canadians. To this end we will propose a new, more democratic voting system that preserves the connection between MPs and their constituents, while ensuring parties are represented in Parliament in better proportion to how Canadians voted. Your vote will always count.

        • Norm says:

          Thanks Jane. At the time I wrote to Mike, there still wasn’t anything on the Territorial NDP website. It’s great to see at least one of the major political parties willing to voice that change is needed.


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