BC-PR, how it could be customized

The main difference in how almost any proportional representation system (whether it’s SNTV, STV, MMP, RU-PR, or my proposed BC-PR variant of RU-PR, is how you divvy up the regions and top-up seats, if any.

Elections under first-past-the-post (FPTP) are not proportional, a party can win 40% of the vote but a majority of the seats. Top-up seats address this by
adding additional representatives to the legislature that are elected from parties who were under-represented on election day. This makes the final result more proportional. So how you do decide who those people are?

#1 – BC-PR Regional

This variant breaks the province into regions (the North, the Kootenays, Southern Vancouver Island, Vancouver West, Vancouver East, Surrey, Richmond, etc., etc., etc.). Each region could have a small number of top-up seats, which would select a small number of best runners-up to ensure proportionality. The best runners-up would be from the regions that they represent, so they’d be strongly tied to each region. This would be less proportional overall, however.

#2 – BC-PR Rural

Rural representation is a top concern in discussions around PR. Optionally you could address that head on, with the “best runner-up” list favouring the near best winners from rural areas first and foremost. At the present time, rural ridings are allowed to have fewer people in them than urban ridings to keep the ridings somewhat smaller, and to help address the fact that the urban ridings are growing in number whereas the rural ones are not. An alternative is to allow the rural ridings to represent as many voters per MLA as the urban ridings, but to populate the top of the top-up list with the rural near-best-winners first.

This system over-represents the rural ridings in a fairer and more transparent way than the current system does. I don’t think most voters today understand that a riding in Surrey has far more voters in it than a riding in BC’s North does. And it over-represents the rural ridings in a way that benefits proportionality, so it’s doing it for a constructive reason.

Under this system, proportionality would be calculated province-wide, which is the most proportional way to do it (as calculating proportionality regionally reduces the degree of proportionality.

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There are many other potential models, but these strike me as the ones most likely to earn the favour of both electoral reformers (who will need to advocate the system) and the general public (who will need to approve it). As always, comments are welcome!

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