What's this about?

Between October 22nd and November 30th British Columbians will vote in a mail-in referendum on the Electoral Reform. Aside from the status quo, three electoral systems are presented as options. These three options aim to create a government that proportionally represents BC voters as a whole, meaning 40% of popular vote for a party would mean party getting 40% of seats. While the options seem complicated and the refendum could do a better job defining them, the aim of this site is to show how 2017 BC election would unfold with all three electoral system.

First Past the Post (FPTP) Icon

First Past The Post

Each electoral district elects a single MLA based on highest number of votes. This MLA represents the population of the district in the Legislative Assembly.

Dual Member Proportional (DMP) Icon

Dual Member Proportional

Most existing electoral districts are combined to have 2 MLA seats. One is elected based on FPTP, the other is allocated to a party in order to achieve proportional representation across the BC province.

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) Icon

Mixed Member Proportional

Existing districts are combined into larger districts with 1 MLA seat. Districts are grouped into regions with additional seats assigned to each. District elects one MLA based on FPTP, while regional seats are allocated to parties based on popular vote.

Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP) Icon

Rural-Urban Proportional

Existing rural districts will be converted to use MMP system. Existing (semi)urban districts will consolidate into larger districts. These will elect a group of MLAs based on a ranked ballot, likely resulting in proportional representation in the district.

First Past The Post (FPTP)

First Past the Post (FPTP) Single Riding

Building Blocks: One District, One Seat

In First Past The Post elections, the province is divided into areas called electoral districts (represented here by squares). Each district is assigned one and only one seat in the Legislative Assembly. The boundaries of these districts are decided by an independent (non-partisan) committee.

First Past the Post (FPTP) Blank Map

Setup: Districts Vary by Size and Needs

There were 87 electoral districts in the 2017 provincial election, from Stikine in the North to Victoria Beacon Hill in the South, to Kootenay East... in the East. An electoral district can cover a population from 14,000 to 49,000. Some districts are densely populated (urban), while others are very sparse (rural). All districts are represented by equivalent squares in the tile map.

Results: Almost a Majority Government

After the votes were tallied, BC Liberals () won in 43 districts,
BC NDP () won in 41 districts, and BC Green Party () won in 3 districts, resulting in a minority government.

Party Popular Vote Portion of Seats
Liberal 40% 49%
NDP 40% 47%
Green 17% 4%
Other 3% 0%

However, the portion of seats given to each party does not align with the proportion of votes that British Columbians cast for these parties. This is why FPTP often leads to a dual-party system, where voters only seriously consider two options (Liberals or NDP in this case).

Dual Member Proportional (DMP)

Dual Member Proportional (DMP) Electoral District Types

Building Blocks: One and Two-seat Districts

In Dual Member Proportional system, there are two types of districts: two-seat districts and a small number of single-seat districts. Single-seat districts will likely be those in rural BC and will use FPTP to elect their MLA. Two-seat districts will be created by joining existing adjacent electoral districts. In these, one MLA will be selected based on FPTP, while the other will be assigned based on province-wide popular vote.

Dual Member Proportional (DMP) Blank Map

Setup: Pair Districts and Leave Rural As Is

In order to show what elections in 2017 would look like with Dual Member Proporional system, assume that 11 rural electoral districts will remain. All others will be paired up to create 38 two-seat districts. Voters in two-seat districts will be represented in the legislature by two MLAs, often from two different parties. This also preserves the total number of MLAs at 87, though both electoral district boundaries and number of seats in the legislature will be decided post referendum.

Results: Seats Allocated Proportional to Popular Vote

Assuming a single ballot was used in 2017 DMP-style elections, the result is a minority government where each party received seats in the legislature proportional to the overall popular vote. Liberals () get 35 seats, NDP () gets 36, and Greens () get 16 of the total 87 seats.

Party Popular Vote Portion of Seats
Liberal 40% 40%
NDP 40% 42%
Green 17% 18%
Other 3% 0%

Note that no "small" party would have received any seats as they did not reach minimum 5% threshold of popular vote. Because proportional representation more often than not means minority government, there would be an additional complication of forming a coalition.

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) Districts and Regions

Building Blocks: Electoral Districts and Regions

Mixed Member Proportional system elects one representative in each single-seat electoral district using FPTP. Districts are grouped into large electoral regions. Each region is allocated a certain number of regional seats that are assigned to parties based on popular vote within that region. Population of a given district is then represented in the legislature by its local district MLA and all of the regional MLAs from the region that the district belongs to.

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) Blank Map

Setup: 8 Regions, 57 Districts

Simulating 2017 election results under Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system is susceptible to variations in where regional boundaries are drawn, how electoral districts are combined to accommodate regional seats in the legislature, and the total number of MLAs - all questions to be addressed after the referendum. To make comparison easier, assume the number of seats will remain at 87 (57 district and 30 regional), there will be 8 electoral regions, and smaller electoral districts will be consolidated (i.e. no divisions of existing districts). Assume also that a single ballot is used and electorate votes for their party of choice.

Results: Regional Proportionality

MMP looks to establish proportional representation on regional level, meaning that within each electoral region the combined regional and district seats are allocated proportional to popular vote. With that, the province-wide result ends up being close to proportional as well:
Liberals () and NDP () get 37 seats each, with the remaining 13 seats going to the Green Party ().

Party Popular Vote Portion of Seats
Liberal 40% 42.5%
NDP 40% 42.5%
Green 17% 15.0%
Other 3% 0.0%

Similar to DMP, no small party would have received seats due to the 5% of popular vote threshold and there would be a need for coalition negotiations due to no party winning a majority of seats.

Rural Urban Proportional (RUP)

Rural Member Proportional (RUP) Blank Map

Building Blocks: Regions & Multi-Member Districts

Rural-Urban Propotional System is a mixture of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) and Multi-Seat Electoral Districts where the winners are decided using a ranked ballot (i.e. Single Transferable Vote or STV). Specifically, the province would be divided into rural areas, where MMP would be used, and urban areas where electoral districts would become larger and voters would submit a ranked list ballot to select a number of MLAs for each district.

Rural Urban Proportional (RUP) Blank Map

Setup: 2 Regions, 14 Urban Districts

To simulate 2017 BC Election results under Rural-Urban Proportional system, assume there are 2 rural regions, Northern and Central BC, with 5 and 4 regional seats, respectively. Additionally, there are 14 urban electoral districts ranging from 3 to 6 legislature seats each. In these districts, seats are assigned to parties proportionally to popular vote (i.e. 30% of the vote equates to 30% of the seats in the district for a given party). Assume also that in 2017 voters would only rank the candidates from their party of choice. This would not be the case in real RUP elections, but it is a suitable to illustrate one potential scenario.

Results: (Larger) District Proportionality

RUP creates proportional representation on the regional level in rural BC and on district level in urban and semi-urban areas. The province wide result would be Liberals () would get 36 seats, NDP () would get 35 seats, and Greens () would get 16.

Party Popular Vote Portion of Seats
Liberal 40% 42%
NDP 40% 40%
Green 17% 18%
Other 3% 0%

Coalition negotiation would need to take place in order to form a government, though no parties other than the major three would have seats in the legislature.