Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Decriminalization Petition in BC

There are only 26 days left in Sensible BC's petition drive to get a referendum in BC to decriminalize marijuana.  I suspect they are going to fall short, which is effectively what Dana Larsen said on Global.

I have no idea how well they are doing in getting the signatures they need.   They need to gather 10% of the eligible voters in each riding in the province.   The bar is not an easy one to achieve but it is also not outside the realm of possible.   They need to achieve 316,554 signatures which is close to 3,500 per day.  They have 4,061 canvassers signed up as of today, which means if each canvasser can get 100 signatures they have a chance of succeeding.

The campaign seems weaker than I expected.   I do not get any sense there is a lot of strong organization.

In the Anti-HST petition drive there were regular updates on how the campaign was doing but I am not hearing any from Sensible BC.   In the Anti-HST petition drive I had numerous chances to sign, in this petition drive I have seen one canvasser at a strip mall and I think someone came to the house.  For the Anti-HST petition I was asked several times to help even though I was very much for the HST, in this petition I have not had people come ask me to help and I even offered, sort of.  By this point in the Anti-HST petition there were about 6,500 registered canvassers as compared to 4,061 Sensible BC has.

For me the issue is not a crucial one and I have a busy life.   I do not have the time to volunteer a lot of hours on the petition drive, but the lack of any sense of urgency about the petition is not making the case that I am needed.   From the start I have not seen the local organizing that would be needed to make the campaign a success.   I do not see anything on the group website about a big push at the end.  

I also may hang out with a crowd that is not engaged with the issue, but knowing who a number of the important people are in Sensible BC, this seems unlikely to me.

So can it succeed?

Anti-HST petition had to collect 299,011 signatures and managed to collect 557,383 valid signatures and 156,500 invalid ones.   With about 6,556 registered canvassers they averaged about 85 valid signatures each.

We have had two other significant initiative campaigns in BC:
In 2002 there was an initiative campaign to try and get a form of proportional representation in BC.  It had 4,002 registered canvassers but only managed to collect 98,165 signatures which were not verified.   This is only about 25 signatures per canvasser.

In 1996 there was an initiative campaign to end the bear hunt.  In this one 1,774 registered canvassers collected 88,357 unverified signatures or about 50 per registered canvassers

In both these cases I seem to remember the campaign being clear it was not going to succeed and people sort of stopped trying.   I believe not all the signature seats were turned in so the counts may be low.   I also know that organizationally both those campaigns were much weaker than they should have been.

If Sensible BC can achieve 85 valid signatures per registered canvasser, they would be at 345,185, which is more than 10% of the whole province, but they have to achieve that in all 85 ridings.    I suspect that there would be ridings where 10% was not reached if only 345,185 signatures were collected.

If the signature rejection rate of the Anti-HST petition is broadly realistic, then Sensible BC needs to collect more like 400,000 signatures to allow for one in five being invalid.  That would be with an even distribution.  It seems to me that they are likely not going to get to their goal

What I would like to know from Sensible BC is what are the counts in the various ridings?  Have they managed to get more than 10% in any ridings?  Have they managed to get more than 12.5% in any ridings, which I see as the bare minimum needed to allow for errors?  Do that have a good start everywhere or not?

I hope enough signatures are collected though I am pessimistic.  I am still willing to go out and collect some signatures, but I suspect that in Victoria Swan Lake they have managed to collect more than enough signatures.








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