For the referendum to be binding, the BC Liberal-led provincial government required the adoption of BC-STV receive the support of a supermajority of 60% of the province-wide popular vote and the support of a simple majority in at least 60% (48 of 79) of British Columbia's electoral ridings (districts).
While a simple majority of voters in 97% of the electoral districts (77 of 79) voted to support the adoption of the BC-STV system, in the province-wide popular vote 57.7% of the population voted to support BC-STV, falling just 2.3% short of the government-set requirement for the result to be binding. As a result, adoption of the BC-STV system was not mandated, nor did the government proceed with it.
The (BC-STV) electoral system] will again be voted on by the BC electorate. To be binding, the referendum will again require 60 per cent overall approval and 50 per cent approval in at least 60 per cent of the province's electoral districts. To address concerns from the first referendum, voters will have a map of proposed electoral boundaries under the BC-STV system and groups will have public funding to campaign for or against the new electoral system.
The new electoral districts would be formed by combining several of the current electoral districts. For example, Richmond and Delta's five electoral districts would be combined into one electoral district which would produce five winners, proportional to the votes in the multi-member district, not likely all from the same party. In Ireland an electoral district of that size would typically have 13 candidates, ranging from 10 to 16.
Under the current first past the post or FPTP system, British Columbians elected members from 79 one-member districts in 2005, but this has expanded to 85 for the 2009 election. Elections BC uses census data to maintain a uniform population level across districts so that voters have equal weight. Currently, districts have a mean population of about 50,000. However, due to migration between census, consideration of population densities, and other factors there can be great discrepancies between electoral districts. Vancouver-Burrard has the largest population at about 67,000 people and North Coast has the smallest population at about 27,000 people. Therefore the districts are re-drawn every eight years.
One of the criticisms of this method of is that in many populous communities, in order to create districts with a population of approximately 50,000, it may be necessary to draw arbitrary boundaries which do not necessarily reflect a community of interest.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission was charged with drawing up new electoral districts for both the single-member system and the new BC-STV system. Much larger districts will be created that will elect multiple members. Proponents argue that this creates districts with a stronger sense of community and common interest, in which voters will have several MLAs and can get service or representation from any of them. For example, the 11 new electoral districts within the municipality of Vancouver will be combined under STV to form two electoral districts, one West, one East. The five electoral districts within Richmond and Delta will be combined to form one electoral district. The STV district boundaries are co-terminous with the single-member district boundaries, so the ratio of MLAs to residents is the same under either system.
The proposed BC-STV system was chosen by the members of the Citizens' Assembly to best suit B.C. However, it has specific similarities to and distinctions from STV electoral systems currently being used in other countries.