Thursday, May 12, 2005

And yet another cheap excuse for a post...

The following is my response to the message I posted in my last post: "More on STV."

Apologies for not reformatting either into a more readable structure - busy day.

Thanks for your considered response... I was beginning to think that I may never hear anything back! (I hope I've finally got this posting as something other than 'guest' - I'd like to have SOME sort of identity.) Over the past few days I've been making a point of discussing this with virtually everyone I cross paths with. Still the balance of opinion seems to be woefully under aware of the issues - even some of the more educated and erudite folk I know have little real understanding of the processes involved. I've had to explain numerous times how the system works - at varying levels of detail depending on the interest and political capacity of the people involved. (More on that in a moment.) But generally - and this could be a function of the segment of society I typically associate with - it seems as though the weight of opinion is in favour of reform... actually I can't recall anyone declaring that they were intending to vote 'no.' As I have talked about it more and explained all I can on both sides of the issue, the more and more convinced I have become that I too will be voting 'yes.' In fact, I would pretty much call it a certainty at this point. My main concern remains that people are under educated on the issue - not that there is much to be done either way with merely six days and counting to go. My gut tells me that disenfranchised voters who don't understand the new system are more likely to vote 'yes' as their knee-jerk, thinking that it's a strike against the Liberals (which it may or may not be, depending on how you expect the system to work in the end.) Pass or fail, I take issue with blind voting. Drives me nuts. To this end I've made a point of trying to properly represent both sides of the argument when discussing the issues with people. (I would suggest that it is this effort that has actually swayed me solidly in favour.) A further concern I have is how spoiled ballots will be counted. With a double majority needed to pass the referendum, spoiled ballots could seriously favour the 'no' side. I spoke with an Elections B.C official just last night in quiring about the counting process and so forth. He could not tell me (read: 'he did not know', not the more sinister 'he wouldn't tell me') whether the 60% of the total or the 50% in any specific riding was of total ballots or of valid ballots. If spoiled ballots are counted to towards the total, a spoiled ballot is then as good as a 'no' vote! Potentially good news for the 'no' side. I can see a situation where voters are handed their referendum ballot (which aparently they have the option to outright decline) and respond with a "What!?! There's a referendum and it's been so poorly publicized that this is the first I've heard about it!? Well then, I'm expressing my outrage by spoiling this ballot." Admittedly this is all hypothetical, and the scenario laid out should be of no concern to the detractors as it works entirely in favour of the 'no' side of the debate. One more thing that I would like to respond directly to - hopefully in aid of getting more clarification:
Proponents often argue that electoral reform is either 'dead' permanently, if STV fails now, or will be at least a couple elections before it gets back onto the table, complaining that would be too much for them...well. But, voting for STV will, again, mean a guaranteed delay of several more elections (and who knows what politically, in the meantime) while already present disatisfaction with SMP/FPTP will likely ensure the issue will stay very much alive. Carole James has recently reaffirmed the BC NDP's support for ER, whatever happens this referendum, and the Greens and other smaller parties will also continue pushing for it, as will a lot of people like myself. This level of reform strikes me as a once in a generation opportunity. Any other reformative measures (Recall, for example) are more along the lines of tweaks to the existing structure. (Indeed, Recall itself needed to be tweaked.) It is thoroughly unreasonable to expect that any electoral process we agree to is going to be a sweep. There is simply no way we will get it all right the first time around. (Of course getting it 'ALL right' will never be possible, simply due to varying opinions, but for the sake of argument let's assume that 'acceptable to the majority is synonymous with 'all right.') So it seems to me, that with no other forward-moving option on the table, we should embrace what has been presented with the knowledge that we have a legislated chance to adapt it (or give it the heave-ho) after an opportunity to road test it. I don't really think three elections is a long-time. Sure, it is at least 15% of most of our lives, but I think that it will take at least that long for the process and it's fall-out to become apparent. For better or for worse, we cannot fairly assess the system without reasonable time and practice. Yes, if we say 'no' to STV now, we will have a chance in the future for another crack at PR. I truly believe that we are much further than 12 years away from it if this is the choice we make. There is no evidence of this of course, except for how long it has taken us to get to this point in the first place. Lastly, and 'just for the record'... I can see how I may have come across as believeing that the CA was a waste of tax payer's money. Actually, I believe that it is a fantastic excercise in democracy. I was merely stating that I would understand the cornerstones of that argument fairly easily. Once again, thanks for the reasoned response. As previously mentioned, I expect I am going to be putting my 'X' in favour of BC-STV, but your aid in helping me find clarity (such as it is) is greatly appreciated, and I hope that I can use the further information you have provided to accurately present the 'No' side of the equation in my continued quest to educate those whom I cross paths with over the next week. Perhaps I'll even give a few of them enough reason to vote 'no.' Which would be my ultimate personal victory. I'd rather have someone voting 'no' from an informed position than 'yes' because they thought the acronym 'BC-STV' was 'neat' (or any other poor excuse for a decision.) Not part of the argument at hand, but an amusing anecdote to close on... Friday, my Voter Registration that I mailed... god knows how long ago... (I moved to a new riding in the past year.) was returned to me by Canada Post, despite it being "Business Reply Mail, Postage Paid of Mailed in Canada" and Elections BC's address being clearly labelled on the front - by Elections BC itself. No explanation. If I were an inherently more suspicious person... 8-o

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