British Columbia Referendum on Electoral Reform (2005)

British Columbia Referendum on Electoral Reform (2005)


Note: the following entry is a stub. Please help us complete it. 

Problems and Purpose

BC's referendum on electoral reform was part of a 2001 campaign promise by the Liberal Government. By putting the issue to a referendum, the government sought to ensure any decision on the replacement of the first-past-the-post system was made with the support of at least 60% of the public.[1]


The referendum was the culminating event of a lengthy process of government debate and public engagement on the issue of electoral reform. The referendum was held after a 160-member citizens' assembly came to their conclusion. From January 11 to December 10, 2004, the assembly heard from experts and members of the public and concluded that single-transferable-vote was the most favourable alternative to first-past-the-post. Their recommendation was taken up by the government and was reflected in the referendum's question: "Should British Columbia change to the BC-STV electoral system as recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform? [Y/N]."[2]

Originating Entities and Funding


Participant Recruitment and Selection

The referendum was open to all registered voters. The referendum was schedule to coincide with the Provincial election so, according to Elections BC, "[v]oters could vote in the referendum at any voting opportunity at which they were entitled to vote in the general election, and counting of the referendum ballots occurred on the same days as the counting of the ballots for the election."[2]

Methods and Tools Used

The primary method used in this case was a referendum: a public vote on an issue or specific piece of legislation. Unlike a plebiscite, the government in power is legally required to act on the results of the referendum.[3]

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction


Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

57.3% voted in favour ('Yes') of a change to STV, failing to pass the 60% super-majoritarian threshold set by the Liberal government.

Analysis and Lessons Learned


Secondary Sources




External Links

History of the British Columbia Citizens Assembly

Op-ED: "Who Killed the BC-STV?"

BC Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform — Final Report

The "Know STV" Campaign (urged 'no' vote)

Simulation of 2005 Election using STV boundaries

The Citizens Assembly Blog (covers citizens assembly developments worldwide)'s clearinghouse of citizens assembly information



Case Data


British Columbia CA



Start Date: 
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
End Date: 
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
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If yes, were they ...: 
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Who paid for the project or initiative?: 
Province of British Columbia
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