Shirley Bond
The Clock is Ticking

 If you were following the news recently you would have seen that the latest public polls by Mainstreet Research show that support for and against proportional rep

resentation is pretty much evenly split throughout the province.

Those who have indicated they support the current ‘first past the post’ system hold a slight lead of 50.5 per cent over the 49.5 per cent of respondents who said they intend to support one of the three proposed models of proportional representation that appear on the ballot.

I admit that experience shows us that polls are often less than accurate and this poll might also leave you with the impression that the whole province is talking about the referendum.

Sadly, the reality is that with fewer than two weeks remaining in the referendum period, voter participation has been very low and in fact as I write this column, provincial participation was at 7.4% and for Prince George-Valemount the participation rate was at 10.9%.

All of us should be concerned that unless there is a significant surge in the number of ballots returned, the decision to change our electoral system could be made by a very small group of British Columbians. It is even more disappointing considering that the official referendum campaign was launched over four months ago onJuly 1st.

Even though voters may have received their voting package in the mailbox a few short weeks ago, the deadline for returning your mail-in ballot is November 30th. We are not talking about dropping it in the mailbox by that date, Elections B.C. has to have it in their hands by that date otherwise your ballot will not be counted.

An extremely low voter turnout is a significant concern and in my view the removal of a participation threshold has been one of the significant flaws in this entire process.

Couple that with a lack of a regional threshold, there is a real likelihood that the voices of people in rural and Northern ridings will be swamped by large numbers of urban voters.

Depending on the rate of participation, we could see a decision of this magnitude made by a small percentage of the population. Unless you want someone to choose your future for you, I am urging you to exercise your democratic right to vote.

There is still time to get your ballot in, but the clock is ticking.