We hope you had a wonderful summer! Fall is almost here and the Charter Challenge case work will be ramping up again soon. We're pleased to share an interim update at this time and provide more details on Fair Voting BC's evidence.
Charter Challenge lawyer, Nicolas Rouleau, has been in touch with the government. We are expecting them to file their response evidence by the end of the month. Once confirmed, we will send an update to all supporters on next steps.
At this time, we do expect the current case timeline to shift with a case hearing date in 2023. As soon as details are confirmed, we'll be in touch.
Fair Voting BC Evidence - Some Voters Are More Equal Than Others
The last two messages showed how fewer than half the voters are represented by an MP they’ve voted for and how it can take barely a quarter of the votes for a political party to win majority power.
Only a Third of Seats “In Play” in Typical Election
In the next section of the affidavit, we show that only about a third of all seats across the country are truly in play in any given election - “15% of all ridings were decided by a margin of less than 5% in 2019, and an additional 13% by a margin of under 10%. These ridings are the most likely to change hands and are commonly referred to as ‘swing’ seats or seats ‘in play’. Conversely, 32% of all ridings were decided by a margin of over 25% . These seats are considered to be relatively unlikely to change hands in a subsequent election and are commonly referred to as ‘safe’ seats.”
Histogram of margins in the 2019 federal election. Ridings where the margins are relatively low (<10%, shown in red and orange) are considered to be ‘swing’ seats, while ridings where the margins are relatively high (>20%, shown in green) are considered to be ‘safe’ seats.
Voters in Different Regions Don’t Matter Equally
This is important, because “the distribution of safe and swing seats varies across the country, affecting voters in different ways in different places,” which means that the various regions of the country don’t all matter to the same extent in an election. In general, the outcome in races in BC are most uncertain, while those in the Prairies are essentially pre-ordained, and because the outcome in each riding is “all or nothing”, this means that the overall election results are highly sensitive to small changes in local conditions. In effect, some voters are more “equal” (or influential) than others, which violates the democratic principle that voters should matter equally, no matter where in the country they live.
This dynamic is the root of the well-known disproportional and occasionally highly counterintuitive election results produced by the FPTP voting system (e.g., in the 2019 election where Conservative Party candidates received 1.2% more of the vote than Liberal Party candidates, but were elected in 36 fewer ridings).
Coming up in our next message - an overview of our “Parity in Legislative Power” project in which we “analyze, quantify, and visualize existing distortions created by the Canadian electoral system in relation to the principle of “one person, one vote”, i.e., distortions in the “relative parity of voting power” of Canadian citizens.”
More to come soon!
Jesse Hitchcock, Springtide & Antony Hodgson, Fair Voting BC