In a statement, Elections Nova Scotia has encouraged provincial voters to vote early. It also emphasized the option of voting by mail-in ballot, and said it expects — based on voter behaviour during past pandemic-era provincial elections –- there will be high uptake.
However, that may mean some delays in obtaining results.
Changes in the electoral map
As Nova Scotians cast their ballots, they will also see changes in the province’s electoral map this election.
Four Nova Scotia ridings aimed at improving representation for Black and Acadian voters returned to the province’s electoral map, which includes the largely Acadian ridings of Argyle, Clare and Richmond and the predominantly African Nova Scotian riding of Preston.
The districts were eliminated in 2012 when the province’s former NDP government decided there were too few voters in each.
The Liberal Party currently has 54 candidates in place for the next election, 31 of whom are women and people of diverse backgrounds.
The Progressive Conservatives party has 52 candidates nominated, 27 of whom are either women or people from diverse backgrounds.
The NDP has nominated or acclaimed 48 candidates, 31 of whom are women, three people who are gender diverse, and four racialized candidates so far.
In the last election in 2017, the Liberals returned to Province House with a majority mandate. It was the first time since 1988 that a party in Nova Scotia has achieved back-to-back majorities.The Liberals won 27 of the seats, 17 were won by the Progressive Conservatives and seven were won by the NDP.
As the Liberals entered the fifth year of their current mandate in May, resignations had reduced them to a minority government.
At dissolution, the Liberals held 24 of 51 seats, followed by the Progressive Conservatives with 17. The NDP had five seats, and there were three Independents and two vacancies.
Planning for an inclusive election
Elections Nova Scotia said Thursday it’s engaging with some voter populations, which traditionally have had lower participation due to language and cultural barriers by hiring Liaison Officers.
These officers have been leading three outreach initiatives focused on improving accessibility and inclusivity for First Nation, African Nova Scotian, and Acadian Francophone Nova Scotian voters.
“Many members of the communities have been actively involved and participated in previous elections in many different capacities,” said Charlotte Lafford, First Nations Liaison Officer. “As a continuing effort, we want to improve that by connecting further with First Nations community leaders, elders, and youth.”
The outreach initiative will also be providing appropriate election material in French.
COVID-19 precautions put in place
Elections Nova Scotia announced that it will have strict COVID-19 protocols in place at all voting locations during the elections to make sure everyone is safe.
Election workers and voters will wear masks and there will be tabletop shields.
Physical distancing will also be enforced at voting locations, and frequently-used surfaces will be disinfected regularly.
Voters will be asked to sanitize their hands at entrances and exits and bring their own pen.
Election workers will also minimize hand-to-hand contact with voters by touching their documents, like the Voter Information Card and IDs, as little as possible.
There will be signage to help direct voters and to indicate where to stand to maintain physical distancing requirements.
How to vote
According to Elections Nova Scotia, there will be many options available to vote safely during the 41st provincial general election.
Voters will be able to vote by mail using a write-in ballot or vote safely in person before election day at any returning office or early voting location in the province.
Who am I voting for, and where do I vote?
Each voter is assigned an electoral district. You can find yours here: https://enstools.electionsnovascotia.ca/edinfo55/
To find a list of the candidates running in all 55 ridings, click here: https://electionsnovascotia.ca/RegisteredCandidates41PGE
How do I know if I am eligible?
To register, you need to be a Canadian citizen, be at least 18 years old of age on election day, and have lived in Nova Scotia for at least six weeks.
What if I am not registered?
If you aren’t registered to vote or need to update your address on the register of electors then you can do so online here: Online Voter Registration Service
What documents do I need?
Once you register, you’ll receive a Voter Information Card (VIC) in the mail. This card has all the information you need, such as the address for your polling location.
Elections Nova Scotia says if you are not registered on the List of Electors you can still visit a polling station and be registered on that day and vote.
If you need to register in person, bring at least one piece of ID, which includes a Nova Scotia driver’s license, a Nova Scotia identification card, or a Certificate of Indian Status card.
What do I do if I don’t have ID?
According to Elections Nova Scotia, if you do not have the appropriate ID to register, you may swear an oath and declare your name and address.
How many seats does a party need to win?
When all votes are counted, Elections Nova Scotia says the candidate with the most votes from that electoral district gets a seat in the Legislative Assembly and becomes an MLA. The party with the most seats in the Legislative Assembly becomes the governing party. The leader of the winning party becomes the premier of Nova Scotia.
For more information on how to vote, visit the How can I vote section of the Nova Scotia Elections website.