Press release No. 1 - Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the voting system - The Chief Electoral Officer makes public his report on the compensatory mixed member voting system and other related questions



    QUEBEC, Dec. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Mr. Marcel Blanchet, Chief Electoral
Officer of Québec, has made public a report on the characteristics of a
compensatory mixed member voting system and other related questions. In so
doing, the Chief Electoral Officer has carried out the mandate entrusted to
him in December 2006 by Mr. Benoît Pelletier, Minister responsible for the
Reform of Democratic Institutions. The government had resorted to a provision
of the Act allowing it to consult the Chief Electoral Officer following the
work of the Special Committee on the Election Act dealing with a draft reform
of the voting system tabled in the National Assembly in 2004. It will be
recalled that this Committee was unable to reach a consensus on certain
characteristics of the proposed voting system.
    Mr. Blanchet pointed out that "the architects of a possible compensatory
mixed member voting system must make choices and the report of the Chief
Electoral Officer will inform elected representatives and all interested
persons about the consequences of some of these choices." The exercise carried
out by the Chief Electoral Officer thus consisted of seeing how a compensatory
mixed member voting system would work and what would be the effects of the
proposed changes on the proportionality of the results, on the representation
of women and minorities, on the representation of the regions and on that of
small parties.

    A theoretical model and statistical simulations

    How does one "test" a voting system that does not exist in Québec in
order to "see it in action" and to anticipate its various possible impacts?
With this question in mind, the Chief Electoral Officer designed a theoretical
model in collaboration with various specialists in mathematics and political
science. The idea of testing the voting system using past election results was
ruled out: on the one hand, to produce the most neutral and most impartial
analysis possible and on the hand, because Québec polls did not offer some of
the characteristics that had to be included in the analysis, such as voting
twice. This theoretical model allowed the Chief Electoral Officer to create a
sort of "laboratory" where it was possible to test in particular:

    
    - three types of compensation;

    - ways of electing members that would ensure that the distribution of
      elected representatives represents more or less the percentages of
      votes cast (the "proportional" nature of the representation);

    - calculation methods to attribute compensation seats (which would be
      attributed to "list members", who would join "division members" chosen
      according to the traditional majority system);

    - representation thresholds (minimum percentages of votes that a party
      must obtain to be entitled to list seats);

    - hypotheses by virtue of which the elector casts one vote or two votes
      to elect division members and list members.
    

    It was by carrying out statistical simulations, in collaboration with the
Institut de la statistique du Québec, that the theoretical model was applied.
"We called on mathematicians and statisticians to whom we submitted various
scenarios," specified Mr. Blanchet. "This inevitably led us to enter a highly
specialized field, but it was the best way to obtain informative answers and
to see the impacts that the compensatory mixed member voting system could
have," added the Chief Electoral Officer.

    Consultations held in Québec and international experience

    The report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the compensatory mixed
member voting system also echoes the consultations that were held following
the tabling of the Draft Bill to replace the Election Act. All of the briefs
submitted in 2005 and 2006 to the Special Committee on the Reform of the
Election Act were re-examined. The documentation emanating from the Estates
General on the Reform of Democratic Institutions held in early 2003 and from
the public consultation that had preceded them was also reviewed.
    Research done by various international experts was also taken into
account during the examination of the various characteristics of the
compensatory mixed member voting system. In addition, the Chief Electoral
Officer compiled an inventory of the numerous experiences of Canadian
provinces and other countries, having a connection to Québec's initiative.
    All of this documentary research, whether in Québec, in Canada or at the
international level, made it possible to complement the information collected
during the statistical simulations.

    The "other questions" addressed by the Chief Electoral Officer and his
    position on the choices to be made

    The mandate that the government entrusted to the Chief Electoral Officer
was "open" in that it allowed the Chief Electoral Officer to "propose any
suggestion or element that appeared appropriate in order to achieve the
objective of having a National Assembly that better represents the diversity
of political opinions and the wishes of Québec's electorate".
    The report made public today goes further than what the Minister had
requested, by studying certain specific impacts of a compensatory mixed member
voting system and by addressing the question of the number of Members in the
National Assembly. From the strict standpoint of the administration of
elections, the document comes back to the idea of voting on a Sunday rather
than on a Monday, in addition to responding to the Minister's request that an
examination be made of the idea of holding fixed-date elections in Québec.
    Finally, it is important to emphasize that while the report of the Chief
Electoral Officer expresses an opinion on numerous subjects in terms of
"advantages and drawbacks", it remains first and foremost a source of analyses
and information seeking to provide insight to those individuals who will make
the decisions as to the possible changes to Québec's voting system. In the
words of Mr. Marcel Blanchet, "it is not the intention of the Chief Electoral
Officer to take the place of the legislator, since the way in which members
are elected and the representation of electors in the National Assembly are
extremely important stakes which must be decided first and foremost by
citizens and elected officials."

    The report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the characteristics of a
compensatory mixed member voting system is available on the website of the
Chief Electoral Officer at the following address: www.electionsquebec.qc.ca.
    -%SU: CPN
    -%RE: 1




For further information:

For further information: Denis Dion, Information officer, (418)
644-3320, 1-888-870-3320, ddion@dgeq.qc.ca

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