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Clark would have won under either voting system Add to ...

A new weighted voting system did not affect the outcome of the B.C. Liberal leadership race, according to calculations by former New Democratic Party MLA David Schreck.

But the system – which was designed to level the playing field between urban and rural B.C. and had been expected to give the biggest boost to leadership hopeful George Abbott – appears to have been as or more helpful to the victorious Christy Clark.

Ms. Clark won 32 of 34 ridings now held by New Democratic Party MLAs, gaining traction in areas where her rivals didn’t have a ready base of support and where endorsements from Liberal MLAs were less of a factor.

“Where there is no sitting MLA to rustle up support for other candidates, she moves in and it’s open territory,” veteran political analyst Norman Ruff said on Monday.

Kevin Falcon won the other two NDP ridings.

Mr. Falcon won 26 Liberal-held ridings, compared with 21 for Ms. Clark.

Ms. Clark prevailed in three of four ridings now held by independents.

What Mr. Ruff called an “MLA effect” was at work in ridings where sitting Liberal MLAs endorsed Mr. Abbott or Mr. Falcon, who came a close second to Ms. Clark in Saturday’s leadership vote.

Ms. Clark had one endorsement, from Burnaby-Lougheed Liberal MLA Harry Bloy, and won that riding.

In the northern part of the province, where the weighted system was perhaps most significant, “people who declared for a particular candidate were obviously going out and working for them – they didn’t get 100 per cent, but they got roughly half of the vote for the candidate they were supporting,” said Mr. Ruff.

The B.C. Liberals chose their current leader, outgoing Premier Gordon Campbell, in a one-member, one-vote system in 1993.

The rules were changed at a party convention last month.

In the new system, each of the province’s 85 ridings wields the same influence, and party members were required to pick a first and second choice on a preferential ballot. All of the candidates supported the changes, which the party had been mulling for several years before Mr. Campbell’s resignation pushed deliberations into high gear.

As the dust settled after Saturday’s vote, some wondered whether the result might have been different under the old one-member, one-vote system.

Using voter data obtained and published by the Vancouver Sun, Mr. Schreck went through the “what if” scenario and concluded Ms. Clark would have won either way.

On round three, the weighted system gave Ms. Clark 52 per cent and Mr. Falcon 48 per cent of the votes. For absolute votes, Ms. Clark had 52.1 per cent, with 28,488 votes, while Mr. Falcon had 47.9 per cent, with 26,242 votes.

Mr. Schreck, who posted the results of his number crunching on a spreadsheet on his web site, on Monday tweeted that the race would have turned out differently under the old system before later correcting himself and saying that he had made an error in his calculations.

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Follow on Twitter: @wendy_stueck


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