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Prince Edward Islanders await referendum results on new voting system

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Islanders are awaiting the results tonight of a historic referendum that could make the province the first in Canada to adopt a proportional representation voting system.

Voters in the provincial general election were also asked to answer the question: “Should Prince Edward Island change its voting system to a mixed member proportional voting system?”

For the result to be binding, the “Yes” or “No” side needed to win more than 50 per cent of the votes cast, and win a majority of votes in at least 60 per cent of the ridings.

A clear “Yes” victory would mean a slimmed-down roster of 18 legislators in redrawn electoral districts, while citizens would also cast ballots for nine other legislators from lists the parties create.

These “party list” seats would then be assigned proportionately based on the popular vote each party received on the second part of the ballots.

A decisive “No” win would retain the first-past-the-post system with 27 legislators elected.

Gerard Mitchell, the referendum commissioner, says if neither side reaches the threshold mandated in the referendum act, then it will be up to the new government what occurs.

The Canadian Press