After a month-long campaign, Nova Scotians head to the polls Tuesday to vote in the 41st provincial election.
People can cast their ballots at their assigned voting location or the returning office in their electoral district until the polls close at 8 p.m. Those still in line at 8 p.m. will be able to cast their ballots, Elections Nova Scotia said.
There are 55 electoral districts this election, up from the 51 districts in the 2017 election.
Voters can find their voting location by checking their voter information card or using the “Where Do I Vote” tool on the Elections Nova Scotia website.
Many people opted to vote early for this election. According to Elections Nova Scotia, as of Aug. 14, 166,403 early votes have already been cast by people using write-in ballots, returning office continuous polls, community polls and advance polls.
At the same point in the 2017 election, 112,944 early votes had been cast.
Results could be late
It’s possible that Nova Scotians will not know the result of the election until Wednesday.
In a statement, Elections Nova Scotia said there is a provision in the Elections Act that would allow the chief electoral officer to instruct that write-in ballots can begin being counted before the polls close at 8 p.m.
However, write-in ballots are the only ones that can be counted early and all other polls can only be counted after 8 p.m.
“(The chief electoral officer) has indicated he may need to end the vote count at midnight if it looks like it could go extremely late due to worker fatigue,” said Elections Nova Scotia spokesperson Naomi Shelton in a release.
“If this occurs, ENS will communicate as soon as possible. Counting and live feed results would resume at 10 a.m. the next day.”
Some concerns have been raised about what voter turnout will look like today. In the 2017 election, voter turnout fell to just 53 per cent — an all-time low.
The campaign so far
The incumbent Liberals are running candidates in all 55 districts, as are the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP. The Green Party of Nova Scotia is running 43 candidates and the Atlantica Party is running 15. Four people are running as Independents.
At dissolution, the Liberals had 24 seats in the legislature while the Progressive Conservatives had 17 seats and the NDP had five. There were two vacant seats and three Independents.
Liberal leader Iain Rankin, seeking a third term for his party, has largely kept his campaign’s focus on recovery post-COVID-19.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston has been campaigning on improving health care in the province, while NDP leader Gary Burrill has been campaigning on social issues like rent control and a higher minimum wage.
Nova Scotia Liberals face tighter race days before provincial election
The summer campaign has been low-key, for the most part, though there was the usual political squabbling between opponents and at least one controversy that has followed the Liberal leader throughout the campaign.
Rankin came under fire early on after his party allegedly ousted Robyn Ingraham, the former candidate for Dartmouth South, for posting boudoir photos online. He has refused to comment further on his party’s handling of the situation, saying he has reached out to Ingraham multiple times but hasn’t heard back.
While the Liberals entered the race with a lead, political experts have said this race could be tighter than expected. A recent Narrative Research poll suggests the Liberals are losing support, but it has a large margin of error due to its sample size.
The three main party leaders have spent the last days of the campaign largely focused on groundwork and door-knocking, trying to win over competitive ridings.
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