Government releases regulations for referendum on electoral reform

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Attorney General, David Eby

Victoria: The Government of British Columbia has officially established the rules and responsibilities for the fall 2018 referendum on electoral reform, based on direction from cabinet in early June.

The Province is implementing all of the recommendations from the Attorney General’s report on electoral reform through regulations deposited on June 22, 2018. The regulations set out a range of details required to ensure that the referendum runs smoothly, related to:

  • Voting logistics: Rules for voting, method for counting votes, contents of the voting package, as well as campaign and voting periods.
  • Designated proponent and opponent groups: Eligibility rules for applicant groups, as well as criteria for the chief electoral officer to consider in approving one proponent and one opponent group. The chief electoral officer will have the authority to allocate $500,000 each to the opponent and proponent groups, once selected.
  • Advertising: Individuals and groups must register with Elections BC to conduct referendum advertising during the referendum campaign period. The regulations set a $200,000 limit on referendum advertising expenses.
  • Campaign financing: Proponent and opponent groups and other referendum advertising sponsors will be subject to contribution limits and reporting provisions in line with the recent changes to the Election Act regarding election-advertising sponsors.
  • Compliance and enforcement: Elections BC will enforce monetary penalties for contraventions, such as misuse of public money, exceeding expense limits or violating contribution rules and limits.
  • Public education: The chief electoral officer has authority to provide neutral public education about the referendum and the voting systems on the ballot.

The referendum ballot questions have been amended, based on recommendations from the chief electoral officer. The official questions for the referendum are:

Which system should British Columbia use for provincial elections? (Vote for only one.)

  • The current first-past-the-post voting system
  • A proportional representation voting system

If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following voting systems do you prefer? Rank in order of preference. You may choose to support one, two or all three of the systems.)

  • Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
  • Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
  • Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)

Elections BC will administer and enforce referendum advertising rules and the activities of proponent and opponent groups during the referendum campaign period (July 1, 2018, to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2018). Voting will be by mail-in ballot during the voting period (Oct. 22, 2018, to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2018).

Quick Facts:

  • Rules around referendum advertising, including the requirement to register with Elections BC before conducting advertising, will apply when the campaign period begins on July 1, 2018.
  • In order to vote in the referendum, eligible British Columbians must be registered to vote with Elections BC.
  • This will be B.C.’s third referendum or plebiscite conducted by mail-in ballot.