Preferential ballots are a damage to New Brunswick’s democracy (opinion)

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Last month I had the privilege, during one of my political science classes, to listen to a talk given by two members of a government committee investigating a potential system of proportional representation that could replace first past the post, the current electoral system used in New Brunswick.

After the talk, there was supposed to be time allotted for students to express their concerns and views regarding the potential electoral reform. Alas, this didn’t happen.

Despite not being given the chance to speak, it was clear that most students were opposed to two items which the committee later recommended: giving sixteen-year-olds the right to vote, and a preferential ballot.

Most of the students in that class expressed disdain toward the possibility of changing the legal voting age to sixteen. I cannot understand why the committee came to such a decision, and I suspect that, like me, my classmates are were all horrified at the possibility, because a sixteen-year-old is far too politically ignorant to vote.

The last thing on my mind when I was sixteen was politics, believe you me.

Likewise, most of the students opposed the preferential ballot suggestion because, while those giving the talk painted a theoretical picture of a perfect system, wherein all votes would have equal weight, the students believed that such an electoral system would bring about an era of single ideology rule.

I happily concur with my fellow students (which is a rare occurrence) on their worries regarding a preferential ballot. The usual retort is to look at Germany as an example of a perfect democracy. My usual retort to that retort is to point out that Germany hasn’t had a change of government in over ten years.

I’ve noticed as of late that the greatest advocates of democratic change don’t want it to come about democratically. One particular conclusion the commissioners brought up was that a referendum on the issue of electoral reform wasn’t needed.

This is a depressing concept. Democracies are places where the common person is raised to be at the same level of intelligence as the nobles, intellectuals, and aristocrats. The people are the masters of their destiny. Taking away the option of a referendum is equatable to taking away the people’s freedom.

I’m all for electoral reform and proportional representation, but I’m firmly against first past the post and preferential ballot. Therefore, I’m against the commission’s recommendations.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The original title of this article suggested the author of the piece was anti-electoral reform and has since been corrected.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.