15 October 2008

Fair Vote Canada: Electoral dysfunction, yet again

Press Release - October 15, 2008

Fair Vote Canada

Electoral dysfunction, yet again

Greens deserved more than 20 seats - voting system also punished New Democrats, western Liberals and urban Conservatives

Once again, Canada's antiquated first-past-the-post system wasted millions of votes, distorted results, severely punished large blocks of voters, exaggerated regional differences, created an unrepresentative Parliament and contributed to a record low voter turnout.

The chief victims of the October 14 federal election were:

  • Green Party: 940,000 voters supporting the Green Party sent no one to Parliament, setting a new record for the most votes cast for any party that gained no parliamentary representation. By comparison, 813,000 Conservative voters in Alberta alone were able to elect 27 MPs.
  • Prairie Liberals and New Democrats: In the prairie provinces, Conservatives received roughly twice the vote of the Liberals and NDP, but took seven times as many seats.
  • Urban Conservatives: Similar to the last election, a quarter-million Conservative voters in Toronto elected no one and neither did Conservative voters in Montreal.
  • New Democrats: The NDP attracted 1.1 million more votes than the Bloc, but the voting system gave the Bloc 50 seats, the NDP 37.

"How can anyone consider this democratic representation?" asked Barbara Odenwald, President of Fair Vote Canada.

Had the votes on October 14 been cast under a fair and proportional voting system, Fair Vote Canada projected that the seat allocation would have been approximately as follows:

  • Conservatives - 38% of the popular vote: 117 seats (not 143)
  • Liberals - 26% of the popular vote: 81 seats (not 76)
  • NDP - 18% of the popular vote: 57 seats (not 37)
  • Bloc - 10% of the popular vote: 28 seats (not 50)
  • Greens - 7% of the popular vote: 23 seats (not 0)

Fair Vote Canada also has data for each province on the number of seats won and number of seats actually deserved by each party.

Odenwald emphasized that any projection on the use of other voting systems must be qualified, as specific system features would affect the exact seat allocation.

"With a different voting system, people would also have voted differently," said Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada. "There would have been no need for strategic voting. We would likely have seen higher voter turnout. We would have had different candidates - more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We would have had more real choices."

Fair Vote Canada (FVC) is a national multi-partisan citizens' campaign to promote voting system reform. FVC was founded in 2001 and has a National Advisory Board of distinguished Canadians from all points on the political spectrum.

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Interested in learning more about electoral reform or volunteering to help spread the message? Then visit Fair Vote Canada's website and its new home for Canada's latest Orphan Voters.

[Press release reprinted with permission.]

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