BC Citizens’ Assembly on
How Does It Work?
The BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform was enabled by a motion passed in
2003 with unanimous support from the BC Legislature. In Fall 2003, 160 citizens
were chosen to sit in the Assembly, which began meeting in January 2004.
As noted on the Assembly web site (www.citizensassembly.bc.ca): “The initiative is
unique. Nowhere else in the world has such power been handed to randomly
What is the mandate of the Assembly?
The purpose of the Citizens’ Assembly is to study electoral systems, hold public
hearings, and determine whether British Columbia should have a new voting
system. If the Assembly recommends a new voting system, that recommendation
will be taken directly to voters in a referendum to be held with the next provincial
election (May 17, 2005).
How were Assembly members chosen?
Elections BC provided a random sample of 200 eligible voters from each of the 79
electoral districts. The sample was stratified to reflect the gender, age and
geographic make-up of the province. Among those excluded from the pool were
MPs, MLAs, other elected officials, candidates in the last two elections and their
official representatives, immediate family members of MLAs, and current officers or
official representatives of any registered provincial political party.
The people in the initial pool were contacted to determine their interest in serving.
From those interested, 10 men and 10 women were randomly selected in each
electoral district to attend an information meeting. After the meeting, from those still
willing to serve, one man and one woman were randomly chosen from each district,
for a total of 158 people. As no First Nations’ people were randomly chosen in this
manner, two additional positions were added, filled by randomly chosen First
The selection process produced a good cross-section of citizens. According to the
Assembly web site, their members “range from 18 to 80, from students to retired