Elections Nova Scotia is preparing for the next provincial election and is committed to having a fair and inclusive election, by implementing three outreach initiatives focused on improving accessibility and inclusivity for First Nation and African Nova Scotian communities.
The first outreach strategy was introduced during the 2017 election. Outreach officers worked in Mi’kmaw communities to help engage people in the election process. The Acadian and Francophone strategy was to provide election material in French.
Andrew Merilees, who works with Elections Nova Scotia as an outreach officer, said that the 2017 initiative was a great success and they have extended the program this year.
“We have community relations officers in each of the 13 Mi’kmaw communities around Nova Scotia and those people will be the first line of contact for community members to receive information. To answer any questions and to get follow up,” said Merilees.
Some voter populations have traditionally had lower participation due to barriers, such as language and cultural considerations or lack of representation in their ridings.
Miranda Cain, who is also an outreach officer said even lack of basic knowledge can play a major role.
“A lot of people don’t even care to even know about voting or who or what they will get from voting from such and such parties,” she said.
“Just to be there to educate them about the importance of voting and let them know that every vote counts.”
The strategy is to build ongoing relationships with special elector communities to ensure their voting needs are understood and met.
“In the Black communities, elections and voting is not something that we ever really saw on our side. So, right now, we’re making baby steps and we’re trying to implement that,” said Cain.