Voters' List Being Prepared In New Way
Nova Scotia is heading to the polls on Aug. 5 and this year's election preparations have been like no other.
As a result of amendments to the Nova Scotia Elections Act in 2001, the province can now create its voters' list using existing data, rather than solely through enumeration.
"Many Nova Scotians will already be included on the voters' list because they are registered with Elections Canada and included on the federal list," said chief electoral officer Janet Willwerth.
To be sure everyone knows whether they are on the existing list, voters' registration notices will be distributed within the next two weeks. Anyone who has not received a notice in the mail by Wednesday, July 23, should check to see they are on the list by calling 1-866-802-8584 or 424-7470 in Halifax Regional Municipality.
Provincial officials have already spent more than two years preparing for use of a permanent voters' list. Using civic address information from federal, provincial and municipal sources, they have matched as many voters as possible with provincial polling divisions, including areas affected by boundary changes since the last time provincial residents were called to vote.
Nova Scotia is not alone in using this system. Nearly half of all Canadian provinces use some kind of permanent list, says Ms. Willwerth.
Still, there have been challenges in adapting the federal list to meet provincial standards. Data supplied by taxpayers on their most recent tax returns will not be included, for example. Specific addresses were sometimes difficult to obtain; in some cases, for example, only mailing addresses were included on the federal list, but civic addresses are required to match voters with the proper provincial polling districts.
"There are also new housing developments, which won't be captured on any existing lists, and some places where the population is especially mobile, like university areas or military bases, where the register simply won't have a chance to catch up," said Ms. Willwerth. "In some of these areas we will need to supplement our existing list with some enumeration."
To be qualified to vote, Nova Scotians must be 18 years of age on or before election day, be a Canadian citizen, have lived in Nova Scotia during the six months immediately before the election was called (since Jan. 5 in this case) and in the polling division on the date the election was called (July 5). Elections Act changes mean that British subjects will be permitted to vote in this election but must obtain Canadian citizenship in order to vote in future.
Electors who will be away on vacation can take advantage of advance polls on Friday, Aug. 1 and Saturday, Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A special poll will be held Thursday, July 24 from noon to 6 p.m. Other special polls are scheduled from 2 p.m to 7 p.m. on Friday, July 25; Saturday, July 26; Monday, July 28; Tuesday, July 29 and Wednesday, July 30. Nova Scotians who can't vote on election day or at the special or advance polls may be able to vote by mail or in person using write-in ballots that will be available Saturday, July 12.
Information on the special, advance and write-in polls will be featured in advertisements in provincial newspapers and is available on the Web site www.gov.ns.ca/elo/elections . Voters can also contact their local returning office for more information, call toll-free 1-866-802-8584 or 424-7470 in Halifax Regional Municipality.
As a result of other Elections Act changes:
- Those who are ill or who have disabilities may appoint an agent to pick up and return their write-in ballot applications. People 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.
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Nova Scotians are heading to the polls on August 5th and many are already registered to vote.
Changes to the Nova Scotia Elections Act in 2001 mean the province can now use the permanent federal voters' list to help create the provincial register.
All people included on the provincial list will receive a voters' notification in the mail. People who have not received their notification by Wednesday, July 23 should check to be sure they are registered to vote.
Provincial officials have spent more than two years adapting the list for provincial use.
Chief electoral officer Janet Willwerth says residents of new housing developments or areas with high residential turnover may have visits from enumerators so the list can be updated.