November 20, 2018 3:01 pm

Electoral reform referendum neck and neck as deadline to get ballots back nears

The 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform package and mail in ballot from Elections B.C. is pictured in North Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward

The referendum to change the electoral system in British Columbia is a tied race according to a poll released on Tuesday from Research Co.

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In the online survey of a representative sample of British Columbians, 40 per cent of people say they will “definitely” or “probably” vote for the current first-past-the-post system, while 40 per cent say they will “definitely” or “probably” vote to switch to a proportional representation system. The biggest difference is based on age, where those older than 55 are in favour of keeping the same current electoral system and those aged between 18 and 34 are heavily in favour of changing the system.

READ MORE: ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns mount big push as PR referendum enters final weeks

“A majority of voters aged 55 and over (57 per cent) hold extremely favourable views of the current system,” Research Co. president Mario Canseco said. “In stark contrast, more than half of those aged 18 [to] 34 (53 per cent) prefer proportional representation.”

British Columbians have until 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 to ensure that their ballot has been received by Elections BC. As of 8:20 a.m. Nov. 20, 779,200 ballot packages are estimated to have been received by Elections BC, which reflects approximately 24 per cent returned.

WATCH HERE (aired Nov. 15): Low returns in B.C.’s electoral reform referendum

This does not include packages that have been received by Canada Post but not yet transferred to Elections BC.

The results from the poll are based on an online study conducted from Nov. 14 to Nov. 16, 2018, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia.

READ MORE: Proportional Representation for Dummies: A electoral reform referendum cheat sheet

Most of those polled that want to keep the current electoral system, 57 per cent of them, cite confusion with the options that are on the ballot as the main reason for their decision. Three-in-10 of these voters also consider that the existing system is fair because candidates need to win the election in their riding.

On the flip side, nearly half of proportional representation supports say the system is fairer because the share of the votes a party receives is reflected in the number of seats it has in the legislature.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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