A History of the Electoral Reform of Prince Edward Island
1773 - The first House of Assembly elected on July 4, 1773 and consisted of 18 members
1799 - The name of the Island changed to Prince Edward Island.
1803 - The First Election Act passed regarding elections to the House of Assembly.
1830 - The right to vote extended to Catholic males.
1838 - The Assembly increased to 24 members elected in 4 dual member constituencies in each of the three counties.
1856 - The Assembly further expanded to 30 members elected in 5 dual member districts in
each of the three counties. During this same time there was also a Legislative Council
which represented electors with property interests. The Legislative Council initially
consisted of 12 members and by 1859 expanded to 17 members.
1861 - An Act proclaimed which made the Legislative Assembly elective and reduced its number
of members to 13 members. These members elected in dual member constituencies in
each county and a single member constituency in the Charlottetown area.
1893 - The Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council joined to create 15 dual districts (30
members) with five electoral districts in each of the three counties.
- The Act Respecting the Representation of the People of the Legislature passed by the
Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council adjusting the boundaries of ridings in
Kings County so that the five districts in the County were more equitable in terms of
1921 - Voting franchise extended to include women.
1961 - The Provincial Government appointed a Royal Commission on Electoral Reform.
1963 - The Royal Commission on Electoral Reform recommended a provincial Election Act and to: create
the position of a Chief Electoral Officer; establish a system for enumerating electors. The
Commission suggested to extend the vote to the Province's aboriginal peoples; abolish the
franchise for Councillor seats; and the number of electoral districts remains at 15 dual member
districts with the elimination of the electoral district of 5th Kings and a new electoral district
added to Queens, namely, sixth Queens.
1965 - Election Act revised, the number of electoral districts increased from 15 dual member districts to
16 dual member districts and the electoral district of 5th Kings recreated and added to Kings
County before the 1966 provincial general election.
1965 - July 13, G. Lorne Monkley (1965 to 1978) appointed as the province's first Chief Electoral Officer.
1967 - An amendment to the Election Act approved on May 17, 1967 changing the qualifications of
electors from 21 years of age to 18 years of age on or before ordinary polling day. The first
provincial election that followed this change held on May 11, 1970.
1973 - May 17 - Layton Schurman (1973 to 1996) appointed as the province's first Deputy Chief
1974 - The provincial Government established a legislative committee, the Electoral
Boundaries Committee. The committee recommended rearranging the electoral
boundaries to provide for better geographical and population representation. The
province took no action on the committee's recommendation.
1978 - Nov 1 - Arthur J. Currie (1978 to 1986) appointed as the province's second Chief Electoral
Officer, with Layton Schurman remaining as the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
1982 - Government of Canada adopted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
1986 - Aug 7 - Merrill H. Wigginton (1986 to 2005) appointed as the province's third Chief
Electoral Officer, with Layton Schurman remaining as the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
1991 Feb 15 - Donald MacKinnon filed an application with the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island
asking that sections 147, 148, 149 150 and 151 of the Election Act be declared null and void.
These sections were the electoral boundaries descriptions for the 16 electoral districts.
1992 Oct-Dec - Prince Edward Island Supreme Court held hearings before The Honourable Mr. Justice
DesRoches. The City of Charlottetown joined Mr. MacKinnon as an intervenor
1993 Feb 16 - Justice DesRoches issued a decision stating that sections 147 to 151 of the Election Act
were contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms pending the necessary legislative
action to remedy the legislation. Justice DesRoches also recommended that remedial action
should take place within a reasonable period of time.
Sep 9 - Order in Council No. EC451/93 established the Election Act and Electoral Boundaries
1993 Oct - The Election Act and Electoral Boundaries Commission called for submissions from the
1994 Mar 17 - The Election Act and Electoral Boundaries Commission presented its final report to the
Legislative Assembly of PEI recommending 30 single member districts.
May 6 - Ross Young presented a private members bill, Bill No. 100, the Electoral Boundaries Act
to the Legislative Assembly from which the present map has been drawn
May 11 - Electoral Boundaries Act, Bill No. 100, received second reading.
May 19 - Electoral Boundaries Act received Assent. This Act comes into force upon a passing of
an order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council pursuant to section 5 of the Election Act for the
general election next following enactment of this Act.
1995 Feb 17 - City of Charlottetown and other urban centres filed a Notice of Application to the
Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island claiming the Electoral Boundaries Act was inconsistent
with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the process by which the Legislative
Assembly determined the Electoral Boundaries Act was flawed.
1996 Mar-Apr - Chief Justice K. R. MacDonald, Supreme Court, Trials Division, heard the City of
1996 June 6 - Lowell J. Croken was appointed as the province's second Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
Nov 18 - Provincial general election was held based on the newly designed electoral districts as
approved by the Electoral Boundaries Act thus creating the first Legislative Assembly of 27
Dec 13 - Chief Justice K. R. MacDonald, Supreme Court, Trials Division, dismissed the City of
1998 The city of Charlottetown filed an application to the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island
requesting the Supreme Court to overturn Chief Justice MacDonald's December 13, 1996
electoral boundaries decision.
Dec. 9-13 - The appeal of Mr. Justice Kenneth R. MacDonald's December 13, 1996, electoral
boundaries decision was heard by the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island.
1999 April 6 - The Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island issued a decision supporting Chief Justice
MacDonald's December 13, 1996 decision.
The City of Charlottetown filed an application to the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa to
requesting the Court to overturn Chief Justice MacDonald's December 13, 1996 electoral
December - The Supreme Court of Canada denies an application by the City of Charlottetown for
leave to appeal a P.E.I. Supreme Court decision on the Electoral Boundaries Act.
2001 - The Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, Special Committee on the Election Act
requested Elections PEI to review systems of proportional representations presently in
existence in other jurisdictions.
2002 - April 5 - Merrill H. Wigginton, Chief Electoral Officer, presented The Honourable Mildred
Dover, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly with the Elections PEI Report on Proportional Representation
2003 - January 21 - Retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island,
Honourable Norman H. Carruthers appointed to head the Prince Edward Island
Commission on Electoral Reform. Commissioner Carruthers consulted with Islanders and
delivered his 2003 Electoral Reform Commission Report to Premier Pat Binns on
December 18, 2003.
September 29 - general election held electing the third Legislative Assembly based on
the Electoral Boundaries Act 27 single member districts.
2004 - January 5 - Electoral Boundaries Commission appointed to review the electoral
boundaries for the 27 provincial electoral districts. The Commission was comprised of
Justice John McQuaid, Chair and Commissioners John Mitchell, Q.C. and Roberta Hubley.
The Commission released an Interim Report on June 30, 2004 and a Final Report on
October 5, 2004 presented to The Honourable Greg Deighan, Speaker of the Legislative
December 16 - The Legislative Assembly passed Motion No. 32 which directed the
Legislative Standing Committee on Legislative Management to appoint an eight person
commission, known as the Commission on Prince Edward Island's Electoral Future.
The Commission directed to further the work of the Prince Edward Island Electoral
Reform Commission. The Commission is to develop and conduct a public education
program, designed to increase among the general public of P.E.I. awareness of the
present First Past the Post Electoral System and a Mixed Member Proportional System
as well as to develop a clear and concise plebiscite question.
2005 - February 17 - Hon. Greg Deighan, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Chair of the
Standing Committee on Legislative Management, announced appointments to the
Commission on Prince Edward Island’s Electoral Future. Speaker Deighan said, "The
Standing Committee on Legislative Management was directed by the Legislative
Assembly to appoint an eight Member Commission to:
- develop and conduct a public education program to increase among Islanders an
understanding of our present "first past the post" electoral system and, as an alternative, a mixed member proportional system
- develop a plebiscite question on which electoral system is preferred by Islanders
- recommend when a plebiscite on this matter should be held
April 30 - Lowell J. Croken appointed as the Acting Chief Electoral Officer.
September 7 - The Green Party of Prince Edward Island was officially registered as the
fourth provincial political party on P.E.I.
October 28 - The Final Report by Commission on Prince Edward Island’s Electoral Future presented to the Speaker of the House, The Hon. Gregory J. Deighan
November 28 - Provincial Plebiscite for the Mixed Member Proportional System for
Prince Edward Island. The Plebiscite ran under the Plebiscites Act and the Proportional System Regulations.
2006 - May 4 - Legislative Assembly rejected the proposed electoral boundaries as
recommended by the Electoral Boundaries Commission on October 5, 2004. The
Legislative Assembly Report of the Special Committee on Prince Edward Island’s Electoral Boundaries
directed Elections PEI to produce new electoral maps and descriptions delineating the area and boundaries
of the province's 27 electoral districts. The boundaries were to be limited to a plus or minus of 15% variance as
compared to the electoral quotient.
May 9 - Lowell J. Croken appointed as the Chief Electoral Officer. Norma Palmer-Bowers
appointed as the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
June 14 - Elections PEI Report of the Descriptions and Maps for the
Proposed 27 Electoral Districts released to the public.
June 28 - The Legislative Assembly approved Bill No. 49 - An Act to Amend the Electoral
Boundaries Act creating new electoral boundaries as proposed by Cletus Dunn MLA,
District No. 26 Alberton - Miminegash.
2007 - April 27 - Election Act was amended to establish fixed election dates at 4 year
intervals with the next general election to be held on Monday, May 12, 2008 and
thereafter, general elections shall be held on the second Monday of May in the fourth
calendar year following ordinary polling day in the most recent election.
May 28 - General election held electing the first Legislative Assembly based on the 2006
amended Electoral Boundaries Act 27 single member districts.
2008 - May 22 - Election Act was amended to change the fixed election date to Monday,
October 3, 2011 and thereafter, general elections shall be held on the first Monday of
October in the fourth calendar year following ordinary polling day in the most recent
election (October 3, 2011).
2010 - March 5 - The Island Party of Prince Edward Island officially registered as the fifth
provincial political party on P.E.I
2011 October 3 - General election was held electing the second Legislative Assembly based on the
2006 amended Electoral Boundaries Act 27 single member districts.
2012 April 2 - Norma Palmer-Bowers retired as the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
November 22 - Judy Richard was appointed as the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
2013 January 4 - Gary McLeod was appointed as the Chief Electoral Officer.
2015 July 2015 - Premier, Hon. Wade MacLauchlan released a report intitled the White Paper on Democratic Renewal
which renewed the conversation on electoral reform. It outlined the guidelines of a special legislative committee, the Comittee on Democratic Renewal which was
formed to determine the plebiscite question and its format which would be presented to Islanders in 2016.
November 27 - Special Committee on Democratic Renewal release their First Report with Recommendations in Response to the White Paper on Democratic Renewal
2016 May 2016 -The Plebiscites Act was amended allowing for 16 and 17 year olds the opportunity to vote in the plebiscite on
Democratic Renewal. The Election Act was amended to allow the Chief Electoral Officer the authority to collect and
maintain information about persons who live in the Province and may become eligible to vote. This allows for the pre-registration of underage voters (16 and 17 years of age)
who will become an eligible elector in the Register of Electors once they become 18.
October 29-November 7 - A provincial plebiscite on Electoral Reform was held utilizing online voting methods paired with two days of in-person paper ballot voting. The
plebiscite ballot used Preferential Ballot voting method offering 5 choices for Islanders on the ballot:
- First-Past-The-Post Plus Leaders
- Mixed Member Proportional Representation
- Dual Member Proportional Representation
- Preferential Ballot.
The plebiscite saw an overall voter turnout of 37,354 (36.5%) with Mixed Member Proportional
Representation winning in the 4th round of counting.
This plebiscite was not binding, but an initiative aimed at seeking public opinion on the interest for change. Due to low voter turnout, it
was determined by Government that a Referendum be held in conjunction with the next provincial election in hopes of increasing voter participation and reaching turnout
levels which would initiate further action. A referendum on Electoral Reform is scheduled to take place with the next provincial election, in 2019.
2016 April 15 - Special Committee on Democratic Renewal release their Second Report with Recommendations in Response to the White Paper on Democratic Renewal - A
October 17 - Provincial By-Election in District 21: Summerside – Wilmot with Chris Palmer (LIB) winning the By-Election
December - PEI electoral boundaries commission named: Chair: Gerard Mitchell. Commissioners: Lynn Murray, Libby Shaw, Elmer MacDonald and Kerri Carpenter
2017 April 26 - Stephanie Roberts was appointed as the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer
May 5 - 2017 Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission
June 5- Marian Johnston, Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees for the Legislative Assembly is acting Chief Electoral Officer.
November 16 - Tim Garrity was appointed as Chief Electoral Officer
November 27 - Provincial By-Election for District 11: Charlottetown - Parkdale with Hannah Bell (Green) winning the by-election.
November – PEI Electoral Boundaries Commission appointed to draw an electoral map of 18 districts to be used as an educational tool as part of the Referendum on electoral
voting systems. Gerard Mitchell named as Chair with Commissioners: Lynn Murray Libby Shaw Elmer MacDonald Kerri Carpenter
2018 March 13 – Electoral Boundaries Commission submits the Special Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission to the Speaker of the House the Hon. Francis (Buck) Watts
November 28 – Gerard Mitchell appointed as Referendum Commissioner of PEI to oversee the upcoming Referendum to vote on the voting system PEI will use to elect members
to the Legislative Assembly.
2019 – February 1 – Referendum period begins and triggers a provincial general election to be held within an eight month window
2019 - April 19 - Green Party Candidate, Josh Underhay from District 9 passed away as a result of an accident forcing the retraction of the Grant of Poll, and forcing a
"deferred election" to be held no later than July 19, 2019.
2019 - April 23 - PEI elects a Minority Government for the first time since the 1880's. The legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island will now consist of
12 Progressive Conservatives,8 Green Party and 6 Liberal. The final seat will be decided with the By-Election in District 9.
NOTE: Voting was delayed at one polling station on Election Day due to a bomb threat. The Poll was evacuated and RCMP with the assistance
of a trained bomb dog searched the premises and after 2 hours deemed it safe to resume the polling activities. This is an on-going
2019 - April 23 - Referendum PEI reports the island wide referendum vote to decide the future of PEI's electoral system was completed with the Opponents winning
in 12 districts and the Proponents winning in 15. A total of 17 districts (or 60% threshold) was established in order to be declared a winner.
2019 - May 09 - Premier-designate Dennis King sworn-in as Prince Edward Island's 33rd premier, alongside the new executive council, by
Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown.