STV BEST SYSTEM for DISENFRANCHISED and POORER VOTERS
STV BEST SYSTEM for DISENFRANCHISED and POORER
The Straight on Thursday of this week came out with an editorial
"Single Transferable Vote (STV) Cure Worsens Disease". It was an attempt to
mislead voters on whether STV will improve democracy. In fact, the Straight
mistakenly claimed, poor people would lose under an STV system of
I was shocked over the assumptions the Straight made in its article. I guess the Straight wanted to back up its claim that FPTP (First-past-the-Post)is not a
perfect system but that STV would be far worse.
For some unusual reason they said that AZT (a drug used to prolong many persons suffering with AIDS)in fact kills them. I'm not certain where the Straight
did their research but to suggest this was despicable. AIDS kills its host victim. Fortunately, many long-term survivors have benefited from taking AZT in combination with other therapies. Their lives consequently have had a better quality of life
I guess the Straight believed using the AZT analogy to back up its claim
would open people's eyes. Sadly, it did a disservice to those living with AIDS.
The Straight then goes on to make other outrageous statements by saying poor people will lose and rich people will gain--if the proposed STV electoral system
passes. The editorial--unsigned of course--backs up their claims stating all those who live wealthier existences will overpower those who live in poorer
enclaves. They compared Shaugnessey and Kerrisdale to Strathcona voting
patterns. Claiming rich people vote whereas poor people don't is simply not
true. If you look at their statistics, at least 60% of voters in Strathcona/Downtown Eastside vote.
While many citizens in the Downtown Eastside feel that their vote doesn't make a difference and hence may question why they should vote. But nevertheless they do because they also recognize its the one thing in life that can't be taken away from them.
What the Straight does in its editorial is play a style of gutter politics which is not any different than what many an unprincipled politician does. To simplify politics to a level where the wealthy wins and the poor loses every time is gross negligence and the Straight should be ashamed.
First off, they mistakenly claim that people from one homogeneous grouping
all vote the same way. This as we know is simply not true.
If you use my neighborhood of the Downtown Eastside as an example, you will find a large number of citizens who don't much care for NDP'r Jim Green. And if you
ran Liberal Gordon Campbell here, an equal number of residents would support Mr Campbell as they did in the 1986 Mayoral race. Yet if you look to the Point Grey area, you will find among the affluent, a high number of folks who admire Jim Green and would vote for him as they did in the 1996 provincial election over Mr Campbell. But it wasn't enough for Mr Green to win.
Yet if these two men ran under an STV election where individuals
running in a five member riding (call it Vancouver riding), both Mr Green and Mr
Campbell would win because voters can rank their preference and many citizens across the city would rank these two men with differing (some say same) political philosophies as their top two choices.
I use as another example the late City Councillor and much respected, Harry Rankin. Mr Rankin always, without fail topped the polls in the City of Vancouver
FPTP electoral system, where the first top 10 vote getters in the riding of Vancouver are elected.
To accomplish this, Mr Rankin enjoyed votes from both the westside and eastside of the city. The wealthier areas were not adverse to voting for him since they
knew Mr Rankin would represent Eastside interests and poorer people's concerns. And he did!
So while the Straight claims that staying with the FPTP system will ensure riding represention for all is simply not well thought out or accurate. Foremost under our current FPTP system, politicians are loyal first to their leader, secondly to their
party and lastly to their constituents. And is this Fair?
It seems to me that politicians must answer first to
those they represent, secondly to their party and lastly to their leader and in a STV system this will happen since enlightened citizens will vote across party lines for those they feel will best represent their interests.
To allow our present FPTP system to continue ensures the De-democratizing of politics. What is primarily wrong with our system is unethical politicians and
since we can't change them, let us seize the opportunity of changing the system so they will be forced to change how they operate.
The general public turns away from politicians because they believe the
politician always takes care of themself first. In many cases we know this to be true. The last thing on many a politician's mind is representing the people. The system (FPTP) dictates that the politician's loyalty must be to their leader and not the public.
So on May 17, prove the Straight, back room boys and the political pundits wrong. Give Democracy a Chance! Return it to the People! Vote for Change! Vote YES to
Jamie Lee Hamilton