Former Liberal MLAs Doug Bing, second from left, and Marc Dalton, second from right, oppose moving to proportional representation. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge voters have had their say on how they vote

Friday was last day for mail-in ballots on PR

More people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows filled out the mail-in ballots and mailed them in, so they have a say in B.C.’s electoral system.

As of Thursday morning, 14,218 valid ballots have been returned from voters in Maple Ridge-Mission, which is a turnout of about 32 per cent.

In Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, the numbers are almost the same, with 14,312 ballots received by Elections B.C., resulting in a turnout of about 34 per cent.

Friday was the deadline day, by which ballots had to be received by Elections B.C. in order to be counted in the referendum that asks people if they want to keep the current first-past-the-post system, where the candidate with the largest number of votes wins a riding, or if voters want to move to one of three proportional voting systems.

NDP and Liberal politicians had both been door knocking, for and against, respectively, changing electoral systems.

Interest in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows was lagging three weeks ago, in mid-November, when only 6.5 per cent of eligible voters had sent in a ballot.

Provincewide, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are near the provincial average turnout of 35 per cent of eligible voters, as of Thursday morning.

Former Maple Ridge council candidate Peter Tam, with FairVote B.C., which supports proportional representation, said the turn out percentage in the referendum shouldn’t affect the end result.

He said earlier that only a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one, is needed for the government to change the electoral system.

“We’re keeping our finger crossed, across B.C. today,” he said Friday.

He expects the ballots remaining in the mail and those that were hand-delivered today at Service B.C. centres to add another eight per cent to the turnout.

“It’s going to be neck and neck, the results,” he said.

It’s also become a partisan exercise between the NDP and Liberals and is also being held at the wrong time of the year, Tam said.

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