The abandoned stepsister of this election campaign -- electoral reform -- makes what could be her final appearance on your ballot today.
The main event, another showdown between Gordon Campbell and Carole James, drew only moderate interest. So the concurrent referendum question is likely well down people's priority lists of things to worry about. A fair number of voters will likely be taken by surprise when they're offered a referendum ballot.
Nonetheless, they'll be given a choice. It's between the current system -- first past the post -- and a single transferable vote system recommended by a citizens' assembly in 2004.
My vote will be influenced because I watched the remarkable work of that group of 160 people throughout 2004. They volunteered to spend months taking the electoral system apart, examining every piece and then putting it back together again, in a way they thought would work better.
The origins of the process lay in the results of the 1996 election. The Liberals got 37,500 more votes than the New Democrats, but the NDP captured six more seats and won the election.
Campbell said he was urged to establish some kind of examination of a system that could produce an anomaly like that. That, of course, was after a similarly skewed result in 2001, when his party got 58 per cent of the popular vote and won all but two seats in the legislature.
So the random assortment of British Columbians were brought together and immersed in the mechanics of voting. It's one of the most innovative things ever attempted in politics. If there was ever a model way of tackling an issue in an open, democratic, non-partisan way, the citizens' assembly is it.
After several months of study, they decided that a change was warranted. To what? Months more work went in to answering that question, with the result a recommendation of the single transferable vote system.
It was put to a vote in 2005 and the result was inconclusive. It got 57 per cent support overall. But because the change was so fundamental, the approval threshold was set at 60 per cent. So it failed.
Because the public response was in the grey area -- a majority, but not a big enough one -- Campbell decided to ask the question again. So it will be on the ballot again today.
Whatever people think of the different system, know this: The proposal is an honest, straightforward attempt to make things better. There are no ulterior motives, no games being played. It's the view of a representative cross-section of B.C. on how improvements could be made.
The proposed alternative is open to criticism. It's remarkably different from the system that's been in use in B.C. and Canada for most of our history. It breaks the tradition of electing one politician to represent one defined constituency. It's fiendishly complicated when it comes to tabulating results.
The Yes and No camps -- each funded by taxpayers to the tune of $500,000 -- have been advancing arguments for the past month.
The most obvious difference is that the No side has spent a lot more time attacking STV than defending the status quo. The Yes camp has a detailed list of shortcomings of first past the post. But they've spent much more time just trying to make STV understandable.
My own make-or-break issue is voter turnout. Despite a marginal uptick last time, the number of people disengaging from politics and tuning the whole thing out has been increasing for years. When just over half the eligible voters are bothering to take 15 minutes out of their day to vote, we've got a problem.
STV seems to maximize the value of the vote. Listing several preferences on a ballot, rather than going all-or-nothing with one candidate or another, might hold some appeal for voters.
And both camps seem to agree that the different system would open the door for more parties. If that shakes up establishment politics, if it freshens up the game and brings more people into the political sphere, then it's worth giving it a try.