Voting 101 – Condensed
Most MLAs belong to parties, and must vote the same as the rest of their party as if they belonged to an all-powerful hive-mind. Failure to follow party lines often results in permanent exile from the party.
Our main Provincial leader, the Premier, is not elected by Albertans, but chosen from among the party members of whichever party has the most seats in the Legislature. And I don’t mean the most seats in general, I mean the most as in: more than anyone else has. They can have less than 50% of the seats and still control the government.
This is called first-past-the-post, and it’s also how our voting system works. When you vote, the candidate you vote for doesn’t have to get the most votes, they just have to get more than any of the other candidates. In an election with 98 candidates, if 97 candidates each got 1% of the vote, and one candidate got 3% of the vote, the candidate with 3% would win. That’s right. A candidate with only 3% voter support could represent you!
So to recap: A candidate can win with less than 50% support, their party can control the government and decide the leadership with less than 50% of the Legislative Assembly seats, and they have to agree with their party’s crappy legislation at all times no matter what.
How does one vote in this messed up system?
Compromise: balance your decision between the candidates you like and parties you like. If the candidate is great but their party sucks, settle for a less good candidate in a better party. If the party is great but the candidate sucks, settle for a less good party but a better candidate. If you care about local matters, like how your constituency office is run, give priority to the quality of the candidate. If you care about provincial matters, like the budget and public policy, give priority to the quality party.
Take down your enemies: if all you care about is stopping those motherf***ing PCs from taking office a-F!@#$ING-gain (or any other party/candidate you hate with the fiery passion of a thousand suns), figure out which candidate is most likely to beat them and vote for that candidate. Remember, they don’t have to have the most, they just have to have more than the person you hate.