Dr. John Carey is Associate Dean in Social Sciences at Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH) and former chair of Dartmouth’s Department of Government. He’s also a co-founder of BrightLineWatch, which monitors threats to democracy in the United States. Dr. Carey is an internationally-renowned expert in electoral systems and has consulted on the design of voting systems in numerous countries around the world. His research focuses on how the rules of electoral competition affect the quality of democratic representation.
In his affidavit, he addresses two main issues - (1) describing for the court what the main forms of voting systems are around the world, and (2) outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each, particularly with regard to representation of citizens, political equality of voters, performance of government, and voter participation.
In the next couple of posts, we’ll summarize some of the key observations he makes that we will rely on in our arguments that our current voting system violates our Charter.
The Big Difference: Single-Winner vs Multiple-Winner Systems
Dr. Carey’s main observation is that “the most salient distinction [to] make among the types of rules used for electing assemblies is between single-winner systems and multiple-winner systems. The distinction here refers to the number of candidates and/or party lists awarded seats within each geographical district. The distinction corresponds closely in practice to single- member district (SMD) systems and multi-member district (MMD) systems.”
He then outlines our current voting system, lists proportional voting systems (he describes the Single Transferable Vote as a ‘cousin’ of list systems), and hybrid systems (in which there are combinations of single- and multi-member districts), and he notes that “a well-documented trend in electoral systems is the adoption or introduction of PR and the move away from single-winner systems, particularly FPTP.”
The rest of Prof. Carey’s affidavit outlines how electoral system design affects correspondence of voter support to representation, representation of diversity (including by gender, race, ethnicity, and ideology), voter participation and citizen engagement, government stability, and government accountability and policy outcomes. Stay tuned for more on these topics.
Jesse Hitchcock, Springtide & Antony Hodgson, Fair Voting BC
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