Elling Lien spoils your ballot and your appetite.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a little bit of a voter’s hangover. And it’s not because of the six tequila shooters I chased my ballot down with on Tuesday.

Well, maybe a little bit of the tequila is to blame.

Anyway, that’s not my point.

The real reason I’m feeling bad is retroactive voter apathy.

Voting for anyone but Mr. John Q.P.C. in this David and Goliath election has the same kind of feeling one has when you lie on your back in a field and stare up at the night sky. It’s the feeling you get when you realise you’re on a puny planet orbiting around a relatively puny star in a relatively obscure section of the universe which will exist only for a finite amount of time. Then you start to feel the earth rotating beneath you and you feel a little sick.

It felt a bit like that when I voted on Tuesday.

The Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election system is what’s called “first past the post” or “winner takes all.” There are voting areas, and there are people in that area you vote for. The person with the most votes, wins. The party with the most elected members gets control of the government.

If the person you voted for lost, you might as well toss your ballot in the trash because it isn’t going to have any influence over who represents you.

But there is always another way. In fact, Ontario is having a referendum on electoral reform—something called a “mixed member proportional” (MMP) representation system.

Basically, if they adopt this system, they’d have two votes on their ballot—one vote for your local candidate (just like we do) plus one vote for the party of your choice. Half of the members of the legislature would be elected in single-member districts, and the other half are voted by a party list. Variations on this voting system are in use in Germany, New Zealand, the UK, and other countries.

So why do we stick to first past the post? Ask one of the 47 elected PC candidates.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Ontario. Depending on how the next few years go, you might expect to see a referendum like that coming our way—but with any one party holding 96% of the seats, I doubt it will come any time soon.

Read more about MMP at ­

Good news! Rabbittown Theatre’s ongoing sketch comedy production “Election 07: Pretending Your Vote Counts” has been held over for another show on October 13. It’ll be a post-election blowout for sure. Showtime is 8pm Oct 6 and 13, and tickets are $17.50. Call 739-8820 for info.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the YouTube videos of independent candidate I, Guzzwell (Neil Butler) as he was hitting the campaign trail:

Way more fun than provincial elections, The Scope’s Best of St. John’s readers’ survey is back. Go online and cast your votes for your favourite people, places and things in the city at

Vote or die is right!

“How popular am I? Well put it this way: Leading scientists say that if Elvis and The Fonz had a baby, I’d be that baby.”

— Mark Critch impersonating Danny Williams in a recent episode of This Hour has 22 Minutes.


  1. Geoff · May 19, 2011

    Unless I’m mistaken, your vote always counts no matter who is elected. Political parties get funding and recognition from the public purse based on the popular vote not by electing members. Just ask the national Green Party, every vote counts and can mean for alot of money for smaller parties like the NDP and goes a long way to providing recognizable and audible opposition and ideas.

  2. Elling · May 19, 2011

    Hmmm… good point, but I’ve been having a look online and can’t find anything about NL political parties getting a dollar value from a vote… I’ll keep looking.

    I’m not saying people shouldn’t vote, I’m just saying the system we have now blows goats.

  3. Geoff · May 19, 2011

    Hmm I can’t find great details onnline about ti either. What I did find on the elections canada site was that candidates get their campaign fees reimbursed if they get a certain percentage of the vote. So even if your favourite candidate isn’t going to win you can help them not be out of pocket.

  4. matthew · May 19, 2011

    Yeah, a few years ago if you hit a certain threshhold in the national election you can like $2 per vote. But even then, I could just give $2 to the party. Or to a homeless person. I find it hard to vote when my vote really wont’ matter at all.
    What the first past the post system also does (especially in an area dominated by two parties) is to make people vote for the lesser of two evils. You saw this in 2004 in the us when many people who had voted for teh green party voted for the deomcrats instead because they didn’t want bush to get in again. (they failed, but whatever).
    Proportional representation means that smaller parties can get elected and there’s more chocie available. Yes this does mean some crazy right wing christian party could get a seat, but the marijuana party would probably cancel them out.

  5. Geoff · May 19, 2011

    Yeah, true, but you can’t make the government give $2 to a homeless person. And some crazy right wing christian party currently does control the USA and they are negating anything Marijuana related at a national level despite individual State interests. Every vote counts, if you want to change the system then you have to vote unless you want to do it by military coup.

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