Nova Scotia Election Basics
On election day, you go to the polling station in your polling location and cast your vote for the candidate of your choice running in your electoral district.
In a provincial election, you have the opportunity to vote for the registered party or person you want to represent you in the House of Assembly. The leader of the winning party becomes the premier of the province. All elected persons are known as Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs. Nova Scotia is divided into 51 electoral districts. In each of the districts, there is a corresponding seat in our Legislative Assembly (also called our House of Assembly). These districts are further divided into polling divisions. Each polling division usually includes 250-450 voters. On election day, you may go to the voting location of your polling division and cast your vote for the candidate of your choice running in your electoral district. When the polls are closed, all the votes in your polling division are counted. These are then added to the results from all the other polling divisions in your electoral district, as well as the write-in ballots and advance polls. When the grand total is counted, the candidate with the most votes from that electoral district gets a seat in the Legislative Assembly, and becomes an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly). The party with the most seats in the Legislative Assembly becomes the governing party.
You may also have the opportunity to vote in a by-election. A by-election sometimes happens between general elections to fill a seat left vacant if an MLA has resigned, been expelled, or died since the last general election. A by-election takes place only in the electoral district where there is a vacant seat, that is, there is no MLA. Most of the by-election procedures are the same as in a general election.
Over the history of our province, electors just like you have been called to vote on plebiscite questions ranging from whether cities and towns should amalgamate to whether liquor should be allowed in Nova Scotia at all. A plebiscite is a vote on one specific question and the result of the vote can change a piece of legislation or can make something legal, like the sale of liquor.