An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
OUR REFERENDUM BALLOTS are in the mail, and God and Canada Post willing, they should arrive in our mailboxes any day if they haven’t already. The voting packages are due in Kamloops now, and in various other places in the province through next week.
In the opinion of some supporters of proportional representation there shouldn’t even be a referendum; the government should have just changed the system on its own.
But, the referendum period is with us, and the question is what to do about it.
The complicated nature of the prop rep systems on offer has been the biggest challenge for supporters to deal with, but it could end up working in their favour.
The importance of the “turnout” in this referendum makes all the hand-wringing over low turnouts in the just-completed civic elections pale by comparison. This isn’t about who we elect to office, it’s about how we go about doing it, it’s about the very way we do democracy in this province
A low return on the mail-in ballots not only would not provide a clear expression of the will of voters but could also skew the outcome.
A simple 50 per cent plus one will win, and there’s no minimum turnout. If those who can’t figure out prop rep simply file their ballots in the waste basket, the referendum will pass because motivated PR supporters are going to be darn sure to vote.
That could result in a very small percentage of eligible voters making the decision.
If, on the other hand, confused voters take the safe approach and vote No in hopes the process will be done better at a later time, that could change the result in a different way.
This is one time we can’t leave it up to everybody else to make the decision.
Whether or not a low turnout will help one side or the other is speculation, but a high turnout is the best option of all.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.