Show up to vote with your brain: Hannah Bell

Jordan Brown’s grandfather is the reason he’s an MLA.
His riding had been held by his grandfather, Addie MacDonald, who knew everyone and would take the time to have a conversation with them.
Brown became involved locally and had the opportunity to work with Premier Wade MacLauchlan who asked about his plans, he said.
“Have you ever thought about running?”
“I thought it was something I would do when I’m older.”
Brown was elected to P.E.I. Legislature in 2015.
“I didn’t think I had a hope in hell to win that election.”
He built a campaign that focused on one message, he said.
“I made sure they knew what I stand for and the party stands for.”
They analyzed the voters which showed they strongly supported the same things they were pushing for, said Brown.
“So, we pushed for electoral reform.”
Five options were set out for the 2016 plebiscite to determine what voting style was preferred. The idea was to get a sense on that ballot of what Islanders wanted for the voting system, he said.
“We developed a map for mixed member proportional option. Attached was the option for the next election.”
MacLauchlan didn’t accept the results of a mixed member proportional representation that had a 52.42 per cent lead because there was a 36.46 per cent voter turnout.
In the next provincial election there will be two questions on the ballot. The 2019 election choices as well as a binding referendum.
Going forward Brown plans to improve the voter turnout. The options could have been clearer in the last plebiscite, he said.
However, Green Party MLA Hannah Bell said the issue with PR was there were too many options.
A Special Committee on Democratic Renewal was created to give recommendations. They made three recommendations, which included first-past-the-post (the current system), mixed member proportional and dual member proportional.
An additional two were added by the time the plebiscite was held, said Bell.
“There was a lot of having to educate people.”
Even though 16- and 17-year olds were allowed to vote, there was a 36 per cent turnout.
“It meant that for one way or another that plebiscite had the lowest voter turnout that we’ve ever had on P.E.I.”
Those who chose not to vote were the majority. That wouldn’t have affected any other election, but it did for this one, she said.
So now we have a referendum instead that will be connected to the next election, she said.
“Hopefully there’s only two questions. Do we stick with what we have now or do we go with the other system [mixed member proportional]?”
We’ve been in a democracy a really long time, but Bell worries the new system is being portrayed as a bad choice.
“We get really comfortable with waiting for other people to tell us how things are.”
There’s a personal responsibility to vote. Be informed and know what you’re voting for, said Bell.
“You have to show up not just to vote, but you have to show up with your brain.”


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