The PEI Electoral System Referendum
Prince Edward Island will hold a referendum on its voting system in conjunction with the next Provincial General Election.
The referendum question asks: Should PEI change its current first past the post (FPTP) voting system to a proposed mixed member proportional voting system (MMP)?
Everybody knows the current FPTP system. The MMP model needs some explanation.
Under the proposed MMP model there will still be 27 seats in the Legislative Assembly. However, only 18 of them would be district seats. The other 9 would be province-wide seats.
Each of the 18 districts would be considerably larger than any of the 27 under the current system.
Under the MMP system members representing the 18 electoral districts would continue to be elected on an FPTP basis.
In addition to the 18 district members, there would be 9 province-wide members elected by voters from a list of candidates put forward by the registered political parties.
At an election governed by the MMP system, there would be a two-part ballot and every voter will be entitled to two votes.
The first vote is for the member to represent the district in which the voter lives.
The second vote is for a province-wide MLA chosen from a list of candidates put forth by the various registered political parties. This vote is used to determine the popular vote and to determine which party-list candidates become MLAs.
It is only in respect of the election of the 9 province-wide members that the proportional aspect of the MMP comes into play.
Candidates on the ballot for the 9 province-wide seats would be chosen by each of the registered political parties.
It would be up to each party to determine how the candidates on its list are chosen.
The names of all the candidates so chosen would be listed on the ballot under the name of the party that submitted them and in the order in which the party submitted them.
As there are 9 seats to fill and there are presently 4 registered political parties, there could be a very long list of candidates to choose from on the province-wide part of the ballot.
A voter would be entitled to vote for only one of the list candidates.
A voter can, if he or she wishes, vote for a list candidate from a different party than the one he or she voted for as a district member.
It is only the votes for the list candidates that is used to determine the share of the popular vote received by each of the parties on a province-wide basis.
The 9 province-wide seats will be allocated to the parties based on the percentage of the popular vote the list candidates for that party receives.
This second vote assigns seats to parties by attempting to make up for any difference in what a party would be assigned proportionally and the number of seats won through First Past The Post. List candidates would represent the entire province.
Based on results in other countries like Scotland, Germany and New Zealand, proportional systems often result in minority or coalition governments, while majority governments are possible.