Islanders vote to keep first past the post

Islanders have voted not to change their system of voting from first-past-the-post to mixed-member proportional representation, or MMP, in the referendum April 23.

As well as voting in the provincial election Monday, Islanders cast a second ballot, voting yes or no on this question: Should Prince Edward Island change its voting system to a mixed member proportional voting system?

More than 50 per cent of Islanders voted “no.” “Yes” was the popular choice in 15 ridings, but only took around 49 per cent of the popular vote.

That means the referendum was defeated on two fronts. P.E.I.’s Referendum Act required a “yes” vote to meet two thresholds to trigger a change: the support of a majority of Island voters in the referendum (50 per cent, plus one vote), and majority support in at least 60 per cent of the Island’s electoral districts (17 of 27 districts).

All four party leaders on P.E.I. said during the election campaign they would honour the results of the vote. During CBC’s live debate last week the Green, Progressive Conservative and NDP leaders said all supported a move to MMP, while Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan declined to state a preference, saying he would let Islanders decide.

King previously told CBC he hopes the discussion of electoral reform on P.E.I. continues no matter the result of the referendum. “I hope it’s only the beginning of how we look at how we govern ourselves.”

P.E.I. referendum commissioner Gerard Mitchell held information sessions for the past several months to educate Islanders on the choices.

Two groups represented the Yes and No sides, Vote Yes P.E.I. and No What to Vote. Each received $75,000 from government to pay for advertising to promote their preferred option.

A plebiscite in November 2016 ended with 52 per cent of voters supporting MMP on a ranked ballot that included five electoral systems, including first-past-the-post.

But then-premier Wade MacLauchlan issued a statement after the results were tabulated, saying it was “doubtful” whether the results constituted a clear expression of the will of P.E.I. voters based on turnout of just 36 per cent.

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