The single transferable vote failed for multiple reasons.
But on May 12 just under 39 percent of voters supported STV, while 61 percent backed FPTP.
In brief: the giant STV ridings scared off voters, as did the incomprehensible STV voting system.
The fact that the only two tiny countries that use STV as a national electoral system—Ireland and Malta—had a track record going back to the 1920s that often contradicted the cheery claims of the BC-STV proponents didn’t help.
And British Columbians for BC-STV ran an unfocused campaign that attempted to replicate the approach major parties use in an election.
The yes side hired staff, rented offices, purchased 10,000 lawns signs, ran phone banks, lined up celebrity endorsements like David Suzuki, former B.C. Liberal deputy premier and now talk-show host Christy Clark, and former premier Bill Vander Zalm, and put an amazing 5,000 volunteers on the campaign.
British Columbians for BC-STV also raised probably $200,000 or more from supporters across the country and brought in high-profile advocates from Alberta, like Rick Anderson, the former senior advisor to Reform Party leader Preston Manning; Ontario, like feminist commentator Judy Rebick; and even former grunge rock star Krist Novoselic, the bass player from Nirvana.
British Columbians for BC-STV deserve full credit for their commitment to an energetic campaign that pulled out all the stops.
But you can’t sell a bad idea no matter how hard you try. And tactics are not strategy.
No STV, the official group funded by the province to oppose STV and defend FPTP, took the completely opposite approach.
No STV ran a disciplined campaign based on polling research and focus groups conducted by Ipsos Reid to direct its television, radio, and print advertising and messaging.
There were no staff, no offices, no lawn signs, no endorsements, no phone banks, and no outsiders brought to B.C.
Each side was provided with $500,000 for their campaign by the province and all available funding—including the less than $20,000 raised separately by No STV—was used to maximize the advertising buy.
All of the elected candidate’s ballots are then re-examined and assigned to candidates not yet elected according to the second preferences marked on the ballots of those who gave a first preference vote to the elected candidate. These votes are allocated according to a ‘transfer value.’”
It became obvious to many voters that STV would increase, not decrease, the power of political parties.
In that STV country, Maltese voters have failed to elect a single third-party candidate since the 1960s and no independent since the 1950s. Ouch.