Elections Act Amended

Department of Justice

April 12, 2001 10:47 AM

The rules governing elections in Nova Scotia are changing.
Amendments to the Elections Act were introduced today by Justice
Minister Michael Baker.

"These changes are long overdue," said Mr. Baker. "It’s time the
rules that govern elections reflect the fact that we are in the
21st century and are in keeping with the practices of other
jurisdictions, including the federal process."

The voters'' list can now be created through the sharing of
electors'' lists and confirmation of existing data, rather than
solely through enumeration. Revisions to the list will be
permitted over a three-week period. The process for the revisions
on polling day will be standardized and will allow all qualified
voters to be added to the list on election day.

Proxy voting will be replaced with votes by mail. Voting by
write-in ballot will be possible within five days after the
election call and up to six days before election day. The total
hours for advance polls will be increased to 20 from 16. Those
voting in advance polls will not be required to sign a
declaration.

In order to decrease costs, elections can now be conducted in 30
days instead of 36. This will ensure Nova Scotia is consistent
with most other provincial jurisdictions in Canada.

All qualified Nova Scotians will be permitted to vote with the
exception of federally sentenced inmates. British subjects will
be permitted to vote for one more election cycle, so that they
may have time to obtain Canadian citizenship.     

Polling stations will be required to have level access, and
mobile polls will be introduced in long-term care facilities.
Those who are ill or who have disabilities may also appoint an
agent to pick up and return their write-in ballot applications.
Those helping voters to cast a ballot will be able to do so for
only one unrelated person.

Candidates will now have access to locked apartment buildings and
condominium complexes to campaign, and tenants will be able to
post signs in windows if they so choose.

The Chief Electoral Officer will be given the power to
investigate complaints and, if appropriate, refer them to police.
With the agreement of recognized parties, the Chief Electoral
Officer may try alternate voting methods in by-elections.
Returning officers will be appointed for fixed terms.

Registration requirements for political parties and electoral
district associations will be streamlined, with stricter rules
for the creation of a new party.


The official addition of the votes will now take place two days
after the election, which will shorten the application time for a
judicial recount and lessen the time when representation for an
electoral district may be in question. In the event of a tie-
vote, a lot will be drawn immediately after the judicial recount
in the presence of the judge and the candidates’ representatives.

"Many of the changes we’re putting forward are based on the
recommendations of the Nova Scotia Election Commission," said Mr.
Baker. "We’re making the process easier, more accessible and
because we will be more consistent with the federal election
rules, less confusing for Nova Scotians."


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     The rules governing elections in Nova Scotia are changing.

Amendments to the Elections Act were introduced today by Justice

Minister Michael Baker.

     The changes will affect the way the voters'' list is created

and revised. Any qualified voter can now be added to the list on

election day.

     Advance polls will last for 20 hours, up from 16.

     Elections can now be conducted in 30 days instead of 36.

     The Chief Electoral Officer will be given the power to

investigate complaints and, if appropriate, refer them to police.

     Mr. Baker says that many of the changes are based on the

recommendations of the Nova Scotia Election Commission.

-30-



Contact: Janet Willwerth
         Elections Office
         902-424-8584
         E-mail: willwert@gov.ns.ca

kjd         April 12, 2001      10:29 A.M.