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BC-STV debate informs public on both positions

Fewer than 100 citizens attended a debate organized by the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) on switching the current B.C. voting system from first-past-the-post system, to a single transferable vote (STV) system.

Bill Tieleman, president of the NO-STV campaign and Antony Hodgson, a director for the British Columbians for BC-STV both tried to convince and inform voters of their position.

Tieleman, who kicked off the debate, pointed out the Australian Senate where STV is currently used has the option to choose a specific party rather than rate all possible parties; roughly 95% do not use the ranking system.

He also pointed out the number of seats in certain ridings, up to six in some, would make voting under the BC-STV difficult and confusing, saying that 45 candidates could be running for six positions in one "super riding."

"There are lots of different problems with this system," Tieleman said. "I think it's a very confusing and obscure system, it is not what British Columbia needs and I urge you on May 12th to defeat it."

Hodgson continued the debate, saying that BC-STV is the natural next step for democracy in B.C. and that STV would enable voters to take control of their politics -- comparing it to the establishment of voting rights for women.

He held up the NDP's results in the 2001 election as an example of a flawed system: they won 42 per cent of the popular vote but lost 97 percent of the legislative seats.

Hodgson also said that the BC-STV system works better for independents or rogue party members, because it gives them a better chance of getting elected solely on their political base.

Both parties did mention the lack of interest around electoral reform. Tieleman said "its not a burning issue for the public" and Hodgson called the referendum a "meta-issue" somewhat separated from other issues in the public eye.

Morgan J. Modjeski is a reporter for The Hook

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