Prince Edward Island electoral reform referendum, 2016
|2016 Plebiscite on|
|Location||Prince Edward Island|
|Date||27 October 2016– 7 November 2016|
|Voting system||Instant-runoff voting|
The 2016 Plebiscite on Democratic Renewal was a non-binding referendum on electoral reform held in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island between 27 October – 7 November 2016. The referendum asked which of five voting systems residents would prefer to use in electing members to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. The referendum, after four instant run-off rounds, indicated mixed member proportional representation was the preferred choice with over 52% support on the final ballot.
Despite a variety of voting options and a long voting period, the final 36.46% turnout was very low by PEI standards. The province regularly gets more than 80% turnout in provincial general elections. However, the only threshold defined for the plebiscite was that the result achieve the support of more than 50% of the valid votes, which it did.
The official question on the ballot was: Rank the following electoral systems in your order of preference, 1 through 5 (with "1st Choice" being your most preferred and "5th choice" being your least preferred). You may choose as many, or as few, of the electoral system options as you want.
The options were listed alphabetically on the ballot as:
- Dual Member Proportional Representation
- First-Past-The-Post (the current system)
- First-Past-The-Post Plus Leaders[note 1]
- Mixed Member Proportional Representation
- Preferential Voting
The result of the plebiscite was found by using the Preferential Voting system, itself one of the options for elections being considered. Voters were given the opportunity to rank the five options from most preferred to least preferred, although they did not have to rank all five options. If more than half of the voters chose one option as their first choice, that option won; if no option captured a majority of first-choice votes, the winner was determined using instant-runoff voting. The option with the fewest votes was dropped, and those ballots were distributed to the other options based on the second choice on those ballots. This was repeated as necessary until one option had a majority of the votes cast.
The referendum was non-binding on the government however.
|Option||First preference||Second iteration||Third iteration||Last iteration|
|Mixed Member Proportional Representation||10,757||29.04||11,153||30.11||12,780||34.50||19,418||52.42|
|Dual Member Proportional Representation||7,951||21.46||8,224||22.20||8,948||24.15||N/A|
|First-Past-The-Post + Leaders||2,821||7.61||N/A|
|Total Remaining Ballots||37,040||100.00||36,701||99.08||36,194||97.72||35,287||95.27|
|Exhausted Ballots - By Round||0||0||339||0.92||507||1.37||907||2.45|
|Exhausted Ballots - Cumulative||0||0||339||0.92||846||2.44||1,753||4.73|
|Total Ballots Cast||37,040||100.00||37,040||100.00||37,040||100.00||37,040||100.00|
After four counts, the Mixed Member Proportional Representational option received a majority of the votes, followed by the existing first-past-the-post system. Voter turnout was low, at 36.46%. However, the only threshold defined for the plebiscite was that the winner achieve the support of more than half of the valid votes, which MMP did.
Voting eligibility and methods
This plebiscite marked several firsts in Canadian electoral history. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-old PEI residents were permitted to vote on the grounds that they will be aged eighteen (and therefore eligible to vote under normal election rules) in the next provincial election, which would potentially be held using the voting system that wins this plebiscite. As well, plebiscite voters were able to submit their votes online or via touch-tone telephone for the first time in a major Canadian vote. Internet and telephone voting was open from 12:00 noon Saturday 29 October 2016 and ran until 7:00 p.m. on Monday, 7 November 2016. In-person voting was open in polling stations across the province on Friday, 4 November 2016, 4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., and Saturday, 5 November 2016, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan said after the vote that he is doubtful the result of the referendum "can be said to constitute a clear expression of the will of Prince Edward Islanders" due to the unusually low turnout. MacLauchlan did commit to discussing the results when the provincial legislature resumed on November 15, 2016; noting the need to examine the urban and rural breakdown of votes, among other issues.
MacLauchlan's government introduced a motion in the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island to hold a second referendum on electoral reform at the next provincial general election, stating that the low turnout for the referendum did not provide a mandate to implement the change and the need for a more specific referendum question with two choices. A motion by Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker to implement mixed-member proportional representation in line with the referendum results was defeated on November 22, 2016 by a vote of 6–20.
Next referendum scheduled for October 2019
The next Prince Edward Island electoral reform referendum is scheduled begin October 29, 2019 simultaneously with the 66th Prince Edward Island general election.
- Where members are elected with FPTP as before, but party leaders do not run for seats and are instead assigned an at-large seat if their party receives more than 10% of the popular vote
- "Media Release: Voting locations". Is it Time for Change?. Elections Prince Edward Island. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- "Voting begins in P.E.I. plebiscite on electoral reform". CBC News. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Roberts, Rob (7 July 2016). "PEI sets voting-reform plebiscite for fall". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- McKenna, Peter (21 September 2016). "Electoral reform in P.E.I. redux". Charlottetown, PEI: The Guardian Charlottetown. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- Campbell, Kerry (16 April 2016). "P.E.I. electoral reform: 4 unanswered questions about the plebiscite". CBC. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- Bradley, Susan (8 November 2016). "P.E.I. plebiscite results favour mixed member proportional representation". CBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Yarr, Kevin (7 November 2016). "Voter turnout in electoral reform plebiscite remains low". CBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
Voter turnout in provincial general elections is typically above 80 per cent on P.E.I.
- "The Ballot". Is it time for change?. Elections Prince Edward Island. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- "How will the plebiscite be run?". "Is it time for change?". Elections Prince Edward Island. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- Canada, Province of Prince Edward Island,. "Elections PEI: Plebiscite Results". www.electionspei.ca. Retrieved 8 November 2016. line feed character in
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- "Internet & Telephone Voting". "Is it time for change?". Elections Prince Edward Island. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- "In Person Voting". "Is it time for change?". Elections Prince Edward Island. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- Sinclair, Jesara (8 November 2016). "Premier calls plebiscite results 'debatable,' cites low turnout". CBC News. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- Wright, Teresa (8 November 2016). "'Debatable' vote, says P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan". The Guardian. Charlottetown. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- "Motion No. 80, Democratic renewal: a clear question and a binding vote". www.assembly.pe.ca. Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.
- Wright, Teresa (22 November 2016). "Motion urging P.E.I. government to honour electoral reform vote defeated". The Guardian. Charlottetown. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- "Motion No. 54 , Plebiscite on electoral reform". www.assembly.pe.ca. Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.