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Referenda & Plebiscites

Referenda and Plebiscites


A referendum is a vote on a matter of public interest or concern. Registered voters indicate their opinion by marking a ballot in response to one or more questions asked of them by the provincial government.

Elections BC administers provincial referenda conducted under the Referendum Act or under separate legislation enacted to administer a specific referendum. For example, the 2009 Referendum on Electoral Reform was conducted under the Electoral Reform Referendum 2009 Act.

For information about campaign finance rules for local government assent votes (sometimes called referenda), see the Assent Voting page.

Referendum on electoral system reform

Elections BC will be administering voting for the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform, under the provisions of the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform Act.

The referendum will be conducted through mail-in ballot. Voting must close no later than November 30, 2018. More details about the referendum, including how to vote, financing and advertising rules, will be posted on our website as they become available.

The Ministry of Attorney General conducted a public consultation process about electoral reform in B.C. Learn more at

Five referenda have been conducted in B.C. since 1991. Visit our Reports page for information about past referenda.

Previous referenda

Five referenda have been conducted in B.C. since 1991. In that time, voters have been asked to express their opinions on the recall and initiative process (1991), treaty negotiations (2002), electoral reform (2005 and 2009), and the Harmonized Sales Tax (2011).

Visit our Reports page for more information about past referenda.

Referendum process

Referenda are conducted under the Referendum Act or legislation established for the administration of a specific referendum. The procedures and rules for each referendum may be different and are determined by government regulation.

Referendum results are usually binding on government. If more than 50% of the validly cast ballots vote the same way on a question stated, that result is binding on the government that initiated the referendum.