Rural–urban proportional representation

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Example of a ballot under rural–urban proportional for a voter who lives in an urban or semi-urban area with multi-member STV ridings

Rural–urban proportional representation (RUP), also called Flexible District PR,[1] is a hybrid-proportional system designed by Fair Vote Canada with the intention of meeting the challenges of Canada's geography.[2][3] Rural–urban proportional uses the single transferable vote (STV) for urban ridings and mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) for rural ridings.[4][5] Sweden, Denmark and Iceland use similar voting models.[2]

Rural–urban proportional has been proposed as one of three possible systems to be adopted in British Columbia should voters decide to adopt a proportional voting system in a 2018 referendum in the province.[6][7] Rural–urban proportional is the only proportional voting system proposed in BC's 2018 electoral reform referendum to include an approach used in Canada before: Alberta and Manitoba used multi-member STV in major cities to elect provincial members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) for 30 years.[8]

A major advantage of rural–urban proportional over other proportional voting systems is that it requires creating far fewer party seats to achieve proportionality over other approaches, such as pure mixed-member proportional (MMP) or dual-member proportional (DMP). Additionally in comparison to these systems, rural–urban proportional's hybrid approach benefits rural areas by preventing rural ridings from growing too large.

Background[edit]

Rural-urban proportional was devised in response to a suggestion made by former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley to the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform on July 7, 2016. He proposed the idea of having proportional multi-member ridings of 4–5 representatives in urban areas while maintaining small single member ridings in rural areas.[3][9]

Usage in Canada[edit]

Rural–urban proportional is the only proportional voting system proposed in BC's 2018 electoral reform referendum to include a voting system used in Canada before: Alberta and Manitoba used multi-member STV in major cities to elect provincial members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) for 30 years.[8] This approach produced proportional outcomes in the cities where STV was used, but not in rural areas, which used STV's non-proportional single-member equivalent, the alternative vote (AV), in single-member ridings.[10] As a result, the overall election results under this system were not proportional. Rural–urban proportional uses STV for cities and semi-urban areas, but uses single-member ridings in rural regions, giving those regions top-up seats to ensure proportional outcomes province-wide.[2]

Comparison to other proportional systems[edit]

A major advantage of rural–urban proportional is that it requires creating far fewer party seats to achieve proportionality than MMP. Under rural–urban PR, no more than 10–15% of seats – versus 40% of seats under MMP – would need to become top-up party seats to achieve proportionality, because the results from the urban and semi-urban areas would already be proportional owing to their voting having been conducted using STV.[2][11]

For rural areas, rural–urban proportional is advantageous because existing first-past-the-post rural ridings would only need to grow 15% larger to facilitate extra regional top-up seats under it, compared to 67% larger under MMP or double in size under DMP. The regional top-up seats would ensure the voting results in rural areas would be proportionally distributed.[2] The hybrid approach to representation taken by rural–urban proportional, reflects lessons learned from previous failed attempts, in British Columbia and other Canadian jurisdictions, to pass electoral reform.[12][13]

Design and operation[edit]

Rural–urban PR is a hybrid of two electoral options for achieving proportional representation: MMP and STV.[14] Urban areas use the single transferable vote for elections while rural areas use the mixed-member proportional system.[15]

In urban and semi-urban areas using STV, existing small urban ridings would join together to form larger multi-member ridings that elect 3–7 MLAs via ranked ballot. The candidates elected would reflect the popular vote of the voters in these larger, multi-member ridings. The use of a ranked ballot permits a high degree of voter choice by permitting voters to rank preferences for multiple candidates. For urban and semi-urban voters, this makes rural–urban PR very similar to BC-STV.[16]

In rural ridings using MMP, voters would have two votes: one to elect their local MLA, and another that would be used to elect a regional MLA to ensure the proportionality of overall results in rural regions. Their first vote on the ballot would be used to elect a local MLA in an identical fashion to the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system: the candidate with the most votes would be elected. The second vote would be used in either an open list or closed list system in which voters select either a candidate or party to represent them at a regional level. These regional MLAs are used as "top-ups" so that overall proportionality is achieved in rural regional areas, given the lack of proportionality that results from simple FPTP. To protect local representation, top-up MLAs will be elected using regional, rather than province-wide, party lists.

Because urban and semi-urban multi-member ridings will return already-proportional results owing to the use of STV, only a small number of additional MLAs (around 10–15%) would be required to act as top-ups in rural regions using MMP to ensure the proportionality of the province-wide results. In addition, no region will lose ridings under any of the three proposed electoral systems in the 2018 electoral reform referendum.

Support[edit]

Rural–urban proportional is endorsed by Fair Vote Canada.[2] Fair Voting BC gave rural-urban proportional its highest ranking in its scorecard of proportional voting systems.[17] During the federal government's consultation on electoral reform at the federal level in 2016,[3] both the New Democratic Party of Canada and Green Party of Canada recommended Canada adopt either RUP or MMP.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rural-Urban Proportional for BC". Fair Vote Canada. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Fair Vote Canada (2018). "Rural–Urban Proportional". Fair Vote Canada. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Special Committee on Electoral Reform (December 1, 2016). Strengthening Democracy in Canada: Principles, Process and Public Engagement for Electoral Reform (Report). Parliament of Canada. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  4. ^ McElroy, Justin (June 2, 2018). "Know your voting systems: three types of electoral reform on B.C.'s ballot". CBC News. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  5. ^ Zussman, Richard (May 30, 2018). "British Columbians will vote on our electoral system — Here are the 4 options". Global News. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  6. ^ McElroy, Justin (May 30, 2018). "B.C. to choose between 4 systems for electoral reform referendum". CBC News. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  7. ^ Eby, David (May 30, 2018). "How We Vote 2018 Electoral Reform Referendum: Report and Recommendations of the Attorney General" (PDF). Government of British Columbia. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Pilon, Dennis (August 2007). The Politics of Voting: Reforming Canada's Electoral System. Emond Publishing. pp. 81–82.
  9. ^ Jean-Pierre Kingsley (July 7, 2016). "In Committee from the House of Commons, Special Committee on Electoral Reform". Cable Public Affairs Channel. p. 37:24. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  10. ^ https://lop.parl.ca/Content/LOP/ResearchPublications/2016-06-e.html?cat=government#txt35
  11. ^ Dias, Megan (July 3, 2018). "BC's Options for Proportional Representation Explained". The Tyee. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  12. ^ Field, Shoni; Schreck, David (April 28, 2009). "Should BC Change the Way We Elect? Hear from Both Sides". The Tyee. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Dupuis, Braden (July 5, 2018). "Electoral reform campaign underway". Pique Newsmagazine. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  14. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzkVPduMg3w
  15. ^ "Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)". elections.bc.ca. Elections BC. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "Rural–urban Proporiotnal: Proportional representation tailored for BC's geography". fairvote.ca. Fair Vote Canada. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  17. ^ Fair Voting BC. "Scorecard". Fair Voting BC. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Wherry, Aaron; Tasker, John Paul (December 1, 2016). "Minister 'disappointed' as electoral reform committee recommends referendum on proportional representation". CBC News. Retrieved June 25, 2018.

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