03 May 2009

Why I Want BC-STV So Much That It Hurts

Contrary to those who enjoy debating electoral reform and prefer keeping emotion out of it, for people like me who still vote and for those who no longer do or never have voted, reducing the inequities of our electoral system is crucial to our engagement in the process.

We feel the need for this reform wrenching deep in our guts.

Literally. We feel starved to be involved and to be meaningfully consulted and heard.

We are of the demographic to which politicians pay lip service every four years. We are people who live in the lowest decile or quintile of household income. We are people who are homeless or who fear each day that tomorrow or next month we will be joining our brethren on the streets. We are people who live in poverty because disability limits our employability. We are people who have been marked as different and hence bear the stigma of society's discomfort or scorn.

We are the unheard, and we are the experts of our own lives and conditions. We are the people with stories to tell and solutions to propose.

We are the people nobody wants to hear; not even by politicians who claim to be champions of "the poor," "the needy," "the vulnerable" or "the less fortunate." Not unless our voices echo their own.

Many of us have been turned off from the political process, never were part of it or, like me, feel such anger and alienation that we will disengage from it if, on May 12th, we learn that BC-STV 'failed' the 60 percent requirement to pass. Once again, the result will have shown how unfair our present political institutions are such that a government which formed on the basis of less than 50 percent of the vote could write legislation that imposed a super-majority on a referendum, thus treating the two sides of the question unequally.

We know all about unequal treatment.

If British Columbians for STV realize their goal, then expect to see a new phenomenon beginning in 2013: people coming in from the margins who have hope in their eyes and an eagerness to participate in the electoral process.

If the goal of the campaign and the hopes of people like me are not realized, expect 2013 to see a further drop in voter turnout.

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