A “Hybrid” Multi-Ballot Electoral Option (2009)

LET’S COMBINE THE NEXT REFERENDUM WITH THE NEXT ELECTION
Getting the Difference Electoral Systems Co-exist
Chris Bradshaw, Ottawa, Green Party of Canada Leader, 2001-2003
hearth@ties.ottawa.on.ca

Imagine going to the polls next time, and the polling clerk,
after you show proof of citizenship, asks you to choose which
ballot you will be using: First-Past-The-Post, Party List, or
Single-Transferable-Vote.  You pick one, knowing that you will be
participating in electing the candidates nominated by their
respective parties to vie for a seat in one of three pools, the
size of each determined by the results of the previous election.

This is an approach that will still take parliamentary approval,
but will not be as hard to make, since the Parliament will not be
selecting a system that would be hard to reverse if experience
proved problematic, but a process that would provide an outlet
for voters with different ideas on the best voting system.
Voters would be consulted, but they would not have to worry about
what system was best for the country, but instead which would be
best for them at the next election.  That is a more human-sized
decision, less fraught with fear of outcomes, less likely to
attract negative campaigning with dire warnings.

Each party could decide which of the three pools of MP contests
they would contest, and in what regions, knowing that they would
be able to influence most of their party supporters to follow
their decisions and not “waste” their vote by choosing a ballot
that didn’t have any of a particular party’s candidates on it
(presumably, once a ballot is chosen, it can be traded for
another, if the first one is returned).

One would think that smaller parties, which rarely win local ED
races would coach supporters to either the List or STV contests
(or both, perhaps depending on region), while major parties would
favour the local races. But major parties also have many voters
who feel that, under FPTP, they “waste” their votes, as many
local races are lop-sided.  So it is not a simple matter.

If the support splits pretty evenly, it would mean that EDs would
get three times larger, as would the 3-5-member “clusters” of EDs
for STV seats.  Likewise, the national lists would need to grow
to match the number of seats a particular party thinks it might
win.

In the long run, the voters might gravitate to one option, and
they might cause Parliament to make a decision to go with that
system exclusively, or they might find new “made-in-Canada”
options emerging that deserve further study and later addition to
the next election (perhaps replacing one that had lost support
over several elections).  Is it possible that the next better
elector system has yet been invented?

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