MMP wins most support in P.E.I. plebiscite

MMP wins most support in P.E.I. plebiscite

November 8, 2016 UPDATED 2:39pmET

Proportional representation has emerged on top in Prince Edward Island’s non-binding plebiscite on electoral reform, though the premier has cast doubt on whether his government received a mandate for change.

Multi-day voting ended yesterday with 36.5-per-cent turnout and four rounds of counting ranked ballots.

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) reached a majority of votes on the fourth round, after less popular choices were dropped and ballots re-assigned to second and third preferences:

ROUND 1 2 3 4
First Past the Post (FPTP) 31.2% 35.4% 39.1% 42.8%
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) 29.0% 30.1% 34.7% 52.4%
Dual Member Proportional 21.5% 22.2% 24.2%
Alternative Vote (Ranked Ballots) 10.6% 11.4%
First Past the Post plus Leaders 7.6%

 

Premier Wade MacLauchlan released a statement this afternoon that claimed a low voter turnout made it “debatable” whether there was a “clear majority.”

Said MacLauchan:

During the first three rounds of counting, First-Past-the-Post (the current system) received the highest number of votes. By the fourth and final round of counting, the support for MMP represented 19 per cent of eligible voters, or fewer than one in five. It is doubtful whether these results can be said to constitute a clear expression of the will of Prince Edward Islanders, to adopt the language of the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal. 

The Ballot

P.E.I. voters could rank any or all of the following systems in the plebiscite:

  • First Past the Post (FPTP): The current system, where MLAs win by receiving the most votes in each electoral district.
  •  

  • First Past the Post plus Leaders (FPTP+): The same as above, except parties receiving at least 10 per cent of the popular vote receive a seat for their leader. Party leaders would no longer run in an individual district.
  •  

  • Preferential Voting, also known as the Alternative Vote (AV). Voters rank candidates in order of preference, and the winner needs at least 50 per cent of ballots. Several rounds of counting can be necessary, with lower-placed candidates removed and the second preferences on their ballots re-assigned.
  •  

  • Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP): One vote for a local MLA, and one vote for an MLA from province-wide party lists. The list seats would “top up” the local results to ensure the legislature standings better reflect the overall popular vote.
  •  

  • Dual Member Proportional (DMP): Voters would use one vote to elect two MLAs in each district. Parties can run two candidates together in each district, with their “primary” and “secondary” ranking determined by the parties themselves. Seat counts are based on the province-wide popular vote, filled first by the “primary” winner in each district, and then by a formula based on proportional representation.

Plebiscite voting was available via the Internet (81%), telephone (9%), or in person (10%). And the voting age was lowered to 16.

-Andrew Thomson