2016 Prince Edward Island electoral reform referendum

A non-binding referendum on electoral reform[1][2] was held in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island between 27 October – 7 November 2016. This was the second electoral reform referendum to be held in Prince Edward Island, following a vote to maintain the status quo in 2005. The referendum asked which of five voting systems residents would prefer to use in electing members to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.[3][4][5] The referendum involved four instant run-off counts and indicated mixed member proportional representation was the majority choice with 55.03% support on the final ballot, with support of 52.42% of votes cast.[6]

Prince Edward Island Plebiscite on Democratic Renewal, 2016
27 October – 7 November 2016 (2016-10-27 – 2016-11-07)
Voting systemInstant-runoff voting
First round
Dual Member Proportional Representation
First-Past-The-Post (the current system)
First-Past-The-Post Plus Leaders
Mixed Member Proportional Representation
Preferential Voting
Final Round
Dual Member Proportional Representation
First-Past-The-Post (the current system)
First-Past-The-Post Plus Leaders
Mixed Member Proportional Representation
Preferential Voting

However, the plebiscite result was a product of a low voter turnout.[according to whom?] Despite a variety of voting options and a long voting period, the final 36.46% turnout was very low by PEI standards.[6] The province regularly gets more than 80% turnout in provincial general elections.[7]

Although he had set no threshold of minimum turnout for the plebiscite to be considered binding, Premier Wade MacLauchlan cited the low turnout as a factor in choosing not to proceed with immediate electoral reform. A third referendum on the subject was held in 2019.

Question Edit

The official question on the ballot was:

"Rank the following electoral systems in your order of preference, 1 through 5 (with "1st Choice" being your most preferred and "5th choice" being your least preferred). You may choose as many, or as few, of the electoral system options as you want."[8]

The options were listed alphabetically on the ballot as:

Process of the vote count Edit

The result of the plebiscite was found by using the Preferential Voting system, itself one of the options for elections being considered. Voters were given the opportunity to rank the five options from most preferred to least preferred, although they did not have to rank all five options. If more than half of the voters chose one option as their first choice, that option won; if no option received a majority of first-choice votes, the winner was determined after vote transfers as per instant-runoff voting. The option with the fewest votes was dropped, and those ballots were distributed to the other options based on the second choice on those ballots. This was repeated as necessary until one option had a majority of the votes.[9]

Results Edit

No option received a majority in the First count. Vote transfers were used as per IRV, to establish a majority winner. MMP took a majority of the votes in the 4th Count.

Prince Edward Island electoral reform referendum, 2016

18,521 votes required to win in the first count.

(thereafter, a majority of the votes still in play was needed to win.)

Prince Edward Island electoral reform referendum, 2016 (final results)[10]
Choice FPV% Count
1 2 3 4
First Past The Post 31.23 11,567 13,108 14,466 15,869
Mixed Member Proportional Representation 29.04 10,757 11,153 12,780 19,418
Dual Member Proportional Representation 21.46 7,951 8,224 8,948
Preferential Voting 10.65 3,944 4,216
FPTP + Leaders 7.62 2,821
Totals 100.00 37,040 36,701 36,194 35,287
Exhausted 339 507 907
Analysis of transferred votes, ranked in order of 1st preference votes
Choice Maximum
Share in
Maximum votes
First round votesTransfer votes
First Past The Post 4 15,869 44.97
Mixed Member Proportional Representation 4 19,418 55.03
Dual Member Proportional Representation 3 8,948 24.72
Preferential Voting 2 4,216 11.49
FPTP + Leaders 1 2,821 7.62
Exhausted votes 1,753 4.73

Voting eligibility and methods Edit

This plebiscite marked several firsts in Canadian electoral history. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-old PEI residents were permitted to vote on the grounds that they will be aged eighteen (and therefore eligible to vote under normal election rules) in the next provincial election, which would potentially be held using the voting system that wins this plebiscite. As well, plebiscite voters were able to submit their votes online or via touch-tone telephone for the first time in a major Canadian vote. Internet and telephone voting was open from 12:00 noon Saturday 29 October 2016 and ran until 7:00 p.m. on Monday, 7 November 2016.[11] In-person voting was open in polling stations across the province on Friday, 4 November 2016, 4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., and Saturday, 5 November 2016, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.[12]

Aftermath Edit

Premier Wade MacLauchlan said after the vote that he was doubtful the result of the referendum "can be said to constitute a clear expression of the will of Prince Edward Islanders" due to the unusually low turnout.[13] MacLauchlan did commit to discussing the results when the provincial legislature resumed on 15 November 2016; noting the need to examine the urban and rural breakdown of votes, among other issues.[14]

MacLauchlan's government introduced a motion in the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island to hold a second referendum on electoral reform at the next provincial general election, stating that the low turnout for the referendum did not provide a mandate to implement the change and the need for a more specific referendum question with two choices.[15][16] A motion by Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker to implement mixed-member proportional representation in line with the referendum results was defeated on 22 November 2016 by a vote of 6–20.[17]

Subsequent referendum held in April 2019 Edit

The next Prince Edward Island electoral reform referendum was held on 23 April 2019 simultaneously with the 66th Prince Edward Island general election. Results of this referendum were very close with 51.7% voting No and 48.3% voting Yes. Neither side met the conditions for the results to be considered binding. and prior to the next election the Island is debating reforms of this nature.[18]

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Where members are elected with FPTP as before, but party leaders do not run for seats and are instead assigned an at-large seat if their party receives more than 10% of the popular vote

References Edit

  1. ^ "Media Release: Voting locations". Is it Time for Change?. Elections Prince Edward Island. Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Voting begins in P.E.I. plebiscite on electoral reform". CBC News. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  3. ^ Roberts, Rob (7 July 2016). "PEI sets voting-reform plebiscite for fall". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  4. ^ McKenna, Peter (21 September 2016). "Electoral reform in P.E.I. redux". The Guardian Charlottetown. Charlottetown, PEI. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  5. ^ Campbell, Kerry (16 April 2016). "P.E.I. electoral reform: 4 unanswered questions about the plebiscite". CBC. Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  6. ^ a b Bradley, Susan (8 November 2016). "P.E.I. plebiscite results favour mixed member proportional representation". CBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  7. ^ Yarr, Kevin (7 November 2016). "Voter turnout in electoral reform plebiscite remains low". CBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2016. Voter turnout in provincial general elections is typically above 80 per cent on P.E.I.
  8. ^ "The Ballot". Is it time for change?. Elections Prince Edward Island. Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  9. ^ "How will the plebiscite be run?". Is it time for change?. Elections Prince Edward Island. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Elections PEI: Plebiscite Results". www.electionspei.ca. Elections PEI. Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Internet & Telephone Voting". Is it time for change?. Elections Prince Edward Island. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  12. ^ "In Person Voting". Is it time for change?. Elections Prince Edward Island. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  13. ^ Sinclair, Jesara (8 November 2016). "Premier calls plebiscite results 'debatable,' cites low turnout". CBC News. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  14. ^ Wright, Teresa (8 November 2016). "'Debatable' vote, says P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan". The Guardian. Charlottetown. Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Motion No. 80, Democratic renewal: a clear question and a binding vote". www.assembly.pe.ca. Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  16. ^ Wright, Teresa (22 November 2016). "Motion urging P.E.I. government to honour electoral reform vote defeated". The Guardian. Charlottetown. Archived from the original on 24 November 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Motion No. 54 , Plebiscite on electoral reform". www.assembly.pe.ca. Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.
  18. ^ "Citizens' assembly to explore electoral reform on P.E.I. could be created in new year, premier says". CBC. 19 November 2021. Retrieved 17 September 2022.

External links Edit