The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is disappointed by Election BC's announcement today that the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform was defeated. Despite this result, over half a million British Columbians voted for change due to a deep dissatisfaction with First Past the Post (FPTP), and the conversation about a more representative voting system must continue.
Under FPTP more and more people have been tuning out of our electoral system and since 1983, voter turnout has fallen nearly 20 per cent. Less than 50 per cent of millennials currently vote and as this group starts to make up more of the electorate, we could see FPTP elections drawing less than 50 per cent participation. This is not only bad for our democracy, it stifles new ideas and innovation and puts British Columbia's future prosperity at risk.
In 2017 the BCGEU asked its members for their input about changes to the voting system and the upcoming referendum on electoral reform. 90 per cent indicated they were in favour of modernizing our electoral system and switching to proportional representation. Many BCGEU members took part in a year-long campaign for electoral reform in their communities and workplaces, engaging with their family, friends, and coworkers.
In total, 533,518 British Columbians or 39% voted in favour of changing the system to proportional representation following the largest public consultation in B.C. history. Unfortunately, the government-funded proponent campaign failed to reach a broad public audience that may have been receptive to supporting electoral reform, contributing to the defeat today.
Representing over 77,000 B.C. workers, the BCGEU is one of the largest member-run democratic organizations in the province with a wealth of experience in making sure that all voices are heard in decision-making. As such, the union will continue to advocate for fair elections and more direct participation in our democracy on behalf of our members, and all working people.