Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform on the Internet
March 16, 2001
For people interested in learning about different electoral systems, the Internet is full of resources that discuss the pros and cons of different systems. One thing you don't find is any spirited defence of the merits of the single-member plurality (first past the post) electoral system in Canada. If you are aware of web-sites, please
e-mail me, so I can add it to this discussion.
There are many groups advocating electoral reform for Canada and they have been busy setting up web-sites. Fair Vote Canada is in its formative stages, but already is the premier group lobbying for electoral reform in Canada. The
Fair Vote Canada web-site is a little sparse on educational content at the moment, but it's a useful place to learn about the organization's activities. You can also subscribe to an e-mail newsletter that will keep you in touch with the electoral reform movement in Canada. The Green Party is a strong advocate of electoral reform (as are virtually all of Canada's small parties) and they've established a nice
Vote PR web-site that has some information about electoral reform and why they want it. Louis Massicotte of the University of Montreal wrote a study for the Institute for Research on Public Policy looking at the desirability of introducing a proportional representation system in Canada. You can read about the
study on their web-site and can download and read the entire paper on-line [(but you need the Adobe Acrobat reader to do so). Andrew Heard of Simon Fraser University also has a discussion of electoral reform (with some nice illustrative graphs) on his
A couple of Canada's provinces have active electoral reform movements with web sites. British Columbia's electoral reform movement is probably the most advanced and effective. The lead organization is Fair Voting BC; their
web-site contains information about their activities as well as arguments for electoral reform in that province. Quebec's provincial government was the last to consider seriously electoral reform. The Mouvement pour une Démocratie Nouvelle
web-site contains information about electoral reform in Quebec and a lot of information about various electoral systems.
There are active electoral reform organizations in other English-speaking countries. In the United States, the
Centre for Voting and Democracy web-site
has a lot of information about different electoral systems, how they work, and their strengths and weaknesses. The United Kingdom has always had a strong and influential electoral reform movement. The
Electoral Reform Society's
web-site is full of information about electoral reform in the UK, but much of the information there is useful to Canadians as well. Similarly,
Charter 88's web-site calls for reform of the UK electoral system. While Australia uses the single transferable vote form of proportional representation for Senate elections and for Tasmania, the
Proportional Representation Society of Australia
is busy arguing for the use of STV in other elections.
If you want to learn what electoral system is used in a particular country, the best place to look is the web-site of the
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). On the IPU web-site, you can search their
After entering the country you want and selecting the relevant chamber of that parliament, the bottom of the page will have a link to information about that country's electoral system as well as results of the last election. It's a very useful resource.
Professor Douglas Amy's Proportional Representation Library
contains many interesting and useful articles, including succinct explanations of how various PR systems work. His site is highly recommended. To learn more details about the mechanics of various electoral systems, as well as the political effects of these systems, the
Administration and Cost of Elections web-site
is an invaluable resource. It contains information about almost any aspect of operating an election that you could think of. The
section on electoral systems
is extensive and balanced, including studies of the operation of these electoral systems in particular countries. The research branch of Canada's parliamentary library has also published a study on the
operation of different electoral
systems, and their strengths and weaknesses.
For other information on elections, CNN provides coverage of current elections being held throughout the world in
The International Foundation for Election Systems runs a nice calendar of upcoming elections and election results.
In a similar vein, you can find information on national and sub-national elections at the
Election Resources web-site.
The Elections Around the World web-site
is also useful for information on recent and current elections.