A high rate of returned referendum ballots indicates that “people actually care about government” in the Boundary-Similkameen, MLA Linda Larsen said.
“And care enough about it that they open their ballots and marked whatever they felt they wanted to,” she said.
As of Monday morning, Elections BC had received 6,797 ballots from voters in the Boundary-Similkameen electoral district, out of an eligible 35,385. That’s 19.2 per cent – nearly double the provincial average of 10.6 per cent.
“We do have a high senior population,” said Larson, “they have a tendency to pay attention to government more than others do.”
Out of 87 electoral districts, only two have higher return rates – Courtenay-Comox (19.5 per cent) and Parksville-Qualicum (20 per cent).
From the feedback Larson has received so far, she said voters seem pretty split both locally and provincially.
She said everybody should do their homework before making a decision, and discourages people from voting for a system they don’t understand.
“Read everything you can possibly read, and if you still don’t understand it, then don’t vote for it.”
The referendum was called by the B.C. NDP government to fulfill an agreement reached with the B.C. Green Party in which the Greens allow the NDP to govern with a minority by supporting them on confidence and supply votes.
The two parties are seeking to replace the current electoral system where the candidate with the most votes in each electoral district becomes the MLA.
They would replace it with one of three “proportional representation” systems in which MLAs would represent political parties in proportion to the parties’ province-wide popular vote.
The districts with higher return rates tend to be rural, while districts with low return rates tend to be urban.
The referendum asks voters two questions. Quiestion 1: Which voting system is preferred between First Past the Post and proportional representation. Question 2: rank the three proposed systems of PR; dual-member, mixed-member, and rural–urban.
This is the final week of voting which began on Nov. 2. Elections BC must receive ballots by 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30.
With files from Richard McGuire