Elections BC Electoral History of
British Columbia

Electoral Highlights

1871 First general election in province of British Columbia for Legislative Assembly.
1873 Secret ballot introduced (SBC 1873 no.6).
1873 Federal MPs disqualified from sitting as provincial MLAs (SBC 1873 no.16).
1873 Plebiscite on increase in sessional allowances held - and defeated.
1874 Chinese and native Indians disenfranchised (SBC 1874 no.12).
1875 Provision made for absentee voting for 1875 only (SBC 1875 no.1).
1876 Property qualification for voting dropped (SBC 1876 no.5).
1878 School teachers prohibited from voting or campaigning (SBC 1878 c.22).
1883 Prohibition against school teachers lifted (SBC 1883 c.34).
1886 First Labour candidates.
1890 Election deposit of $200 introduced (SBC 1890 c.15).
1895 Japanese disenfranchised (SBC 1895 c.20).
1899 Provincial civil servants disenfranchised (SBC 1899 c.25).
1900 Civil servant disenfranchisement repealed (SBC 1900 c.21).
1900 First Socialist candidate (William MacClain, Vancouver City).
1903 First general election along federal party lines i.e. Conservatives and Liberals.
1904 Polling day declared a public holiday i.e. electors to have 4 clear hours to vote. (SBC 1903-4 c.17).
1906 Election deposit reduced to $100 (SBC 1906 c.19).
1907 "Hindus" disenfranchised (SBC 1907 c.16).
1916 Life of Legislative Assembly extended to 5 years (SBC 1916 c.14).
1916 Clergy no longer prohibited from running and sitting as MLAs (SBC 1916 c.14).
1917 Franchise extended to women (SBC 1917 c.23).
1918 First woman to run (and be elected) - Mary Ellen Smith - in Vancouver by-election held 24 January 1918. First time women voted in provincial election.
1920 Election deposit eliminated (SBC 1920 c.27).
1920 Ballots for Vancouver and Victoria to indicate political party or interest of each candidate (SBC 1920 c.27).
1920 Absentee voting reintroduced (SBC 1920 c.27). Used in 1920 general election.
1920 First election in which practising clergy ran: Reverend Thomas Menzies (Comox) and Canon Joshua Hinchliffe (Victoria City). Both were elected.
1924 Both Premier (John Oliver) and Leader of the Opposition (William John Bowser) defeated in general election.
1928 First Statement of Votes published.
1929 No longer required to resign seat and run in by-election if appointed to Cabinet after general election (SBC 1929 c. 14).
1931 Doukhobors disenfranchised (SBC 1931 c.21).
1934 Last election of a candidate by acclamation (Thomas King, Columbia by-election).
1940 All ballots to state political party or interest of candidates (SBC 1939 c.16, eff. 1 April 1940).
1940 Public opinion polls ("straw votes") banned after writ of election issued (SBC 1939 c.16 eff. 1 April 1940).
1940 Candidature in more than one riding prohibited (SBC 1939 c.16 eff. 1 April 1940).
1940 Position of Registrar of Voters created (SBC 1939 c.16, eff. 1 April 1940). George M. Phillips appointed 2 April 1940.
1940 Returning officers no longer required to proclaim oyez! oyez! oyez! on election day (SBC 1939 c.16, eff. 1 April 1940).
1945 Members of prohibited groups, if otherwise qualified, allowed to vote if they served in either World War (SBC 1945 c.26).
1947 Position of Chief Electoral Officer created (SBC 1947 c.47). Frederick S. Hurley appointed to position in July. Central Registry for voters' lists established in Victoria.
1947 Prohibition against Chinese and Hindus removed (SBC 1947 c.47).
1947 Canadian citizenship recognized as qualification in addition to being a British subject (SBC 1947 c.47).
1947 Provision made for advance polling (SBC 1947 c.47).
1948 Mennonites and Hutterites no longer ineligible to vote (SBC 1948 c.20).
1949 Indians and Japanese prohibition removed (SBC 1949 c.19).
1949 Advance polls and "section 80" voting used for first time in general election 15 June 1949.
1949 Frank Calder, Nishga Indian, ran and was elected to Legislature in general election 15 June 1949.
1952 * Single transferable vote used for first time in general election 12 June 1952.
1952 Voting age changed to 19 (SBC 1952 c.3).
1952 Doukhobor prohibition removed (SBC 1952 c.3).
1953 Alternative vote used for second and last time in general election 9 June 1953. First-past-the-post plurality voting system reinstated (SBC 1953II c.5).
1956 First Chinese Canadian to run for seat in Canadian legislature (Douglas Jung, PC, Vancouver Centre by-election).
1974 Candidates for public office required to file a written disclosure of financial and business interests (SBC 1974, c.114 s.13).
1975 First general election in which disclosure statements filed by the candidates (SBC 1974 c.73).
1977 Liquor sales allowed on election day (SBC 1977 c.10 s.5).
1979 Blind voters able to mark own ballots by means of templates.
1982 Prohibition against public opinion polls repealed (SBC 1982 c.48).
1984 Permanent Electoral Commission established (SBC 1984 c.12).
1985 "British subject" dropped as qualification to vote (SBC 1985 c.5).
1986 Out-of-province absentee voting allowed (B.C. Reg 221/86).
1986 First Indo-Canadian to win a seat in a Canadian legislature (Moe Sihota, Esquimalt).

* Please note that reference to use of a ‘single transferable vote’ system in the general elections of 1952 and 1953 is not correct. As indicated in footnotes to the 1952 and 1953 election results, the system in use was actually an ‘alternative voting’ system.