Elections Nova Scotia Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)Expand All
How does an election start?
An election starts when the government passes a special Order in Council. This Order fixes the date of the writ and the date of the election. There is a minimum of 30 days before the actual election will happen.
Both dates are significant. Canadian citizens who wish to vote in the election must have lived in Nova Scotia for at least six months before the date of the writ. They must also be at least 18 years old on election day.
After the Order is passed, the Chief Electoral Officer issues the actual writ and sends it to the Returning Officers. Within five days of the date of the writ, each Returning Officer must then issue a proclamation and post it in the Returning Office. The proclamation will also be posted publically.
How can I get a map of an electoral district or polling division? How much does it cost?
Elections Nova Scotia has placed a pdf of each electoral district map on the website under "Resources" and distributes a series of hard copy maps, including: 2012 Provincial Electoral District of Nova Scotia map; the most recent general election results map; and individual Electoral District maps with detailed polling division boundaries. All maps can be printed in colour or black and white for the cost of $20.40 (CAD) plus taxes and shipping.
Toll Free: 1-800-565-1504
Toll Free TTY: 1-866-774-7074
How can I work in the next election? What are the positions and the pay?
Thank you for wanting to be a part of our democratic process!
If you would like to work during this general election period, read on! If you want to work in any of the positions described below, you can contact a local political party and let them know you are interested in being considered or you check out our Employment listings. (http://www.electionsnovascotia.ca/employment).
Atlantica Party Association of Nova Scotia
Green Party of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Liberal Party
Nova Scotia New Democratic Party
The Progressive Conservative Association of Nova Scotia
Election Worker Positions
Listed below are the positions that may be available during an election. Many of the positions are first made available to the people named by the candidates representing the parties that finished first or second in the electoral district in the previous general election. However, if the Returning Officer(RO) is not provided with sufficient qualified individuals, the RO will recruit directly. Contact your local Returning Officer about these or other positions available.
Enumerators work with a partner to carry out enumeration. Enumeration is the process of updating the List of Electors for the election. Enumerators go door to door to collect registration information for all individuals eligible to vote living at each civic address. The number of hours worked by each pair of enumerators is dependent on the area and the number of houses to be visited. Rate of pay: $15.85 per hour
The write-in ballot coordinator organizes efforts to provide voting opportunities to electors who may not be able to vote at a polling location for a number of reasons. The WIB Coordinator works with an Assistant WIB Coordinator as a team when visiting electors at their homes. Duties include scheduling, visiting electors in their home or in residential care centers with write-in ballot kits and ensuring a smooth and confidential voting process for each elector. Hours vary depending on the district in which you are working and the number of electors requiring write-in ballots for voting. Rate of pay: $20.85 per hour
Assistant Write-in-Ballot Coordinator
The assistant to the write-in ballot coordinator assists the WIB Coordinator with coordinating visits to residential care centers as well to the homes of individual electors who may not be able to travel to a polling location. Your focus will be ensuring that electors who otherwise would not be able to vote are given the opportunity to cast a ballot using a write-in ballot kit. Hours will vary depending on the district in which they are working and the number of electors requiring write-in ballots for voting. Rate of pay: $15.85 per hour
Deputy Returning Officer (DRO)
A Deputy Returning Officer also known as a DRO has very specific and important duties. These include providing ballots to electors and witnessing the ballots being deposited into the ballot box. The DRO alone is responsible for the ballots and the voting procedure. On election day, the DRO can expect to work an average of 13 hours. Rate of pay: $15.85 per hour
The poll clerk is likely the first voting official an elector will meet when they arrive to vote. Duties include greeting and ‘processing’ electors and ensuring they have the documentation required to be issued a ballot by the DRO. The Poll Clerk’s priority is to help, document and guide an elector through the check-in process to ensure a smooth-running poll. On election day, the Poll Clerk can expect to work an average of 13 hours. Rate of pay: $15.85 per hour
If the Returning Officer is not provided with sufficient qualified individuals by the parties or candidates for these positions, he or she will recruit directly. Contact your local Returning Officer (find your returning officer ) about these or other positions available.
Other positions possibly available are:
How can I check to see if I am on the List of Electors?
Between elections, you can check to see if you are on the List or whether your information is accurate by contacting Elections Nova Scotia at 1-800-565-1504; or TTY 1-866-774-7074. You will be asked to provide personal information, such as your date of birth, in order for Elections Nova Scotia to determine whether you are the elector wishing to check his/her information. For privacy reasons you can only check your own information.
During an election, you can see if you are on the List or whether your information is accurate by contacting your local Returning Officer.(find your returning officer) You will be asked to provide personal information, such as your date of birth, in order for the Returning Officer to determine whether you are the elector wishing to check his/her information. Elections Nova Scotia also has a line for those who are deaf or hard of hearing TTY 1-866-774-7074.
I want to vote in the next election. Can I?
As long as you are a Canadian citizen who will be at least 18 years old on election day and have lived in Nova Scotia for at least six months before the date of the writ, you can vote.
If you are a Nova Scotia student attending an educational institution, you can vote either in your ordinary residence polling division or at the polling division associated with your residence while going to school. Get more details here: Student Voting.
Please contact your local Returning Officer (find your returning officer) for more information.
Can British subjects vote?
British subjects are not entitled to vote in Nova Scotia. To vote in Nova Scotia, you must be a Canadian citizen.
Who is allowed to be present in a polling station during an election?
These are the people allowed in the polling station during an election:
- Supervising Deputy Returning Officer
- Deputy Returning Officer
- Poll Clerk
- Elector (voter)
- Returning Officer and Election Clerk
- Two agents for each candidate or one elector representing a candidate
- Official Agent of a candidate
- Any person required to comply with the Elections Act.
- Any person or group for educational purposes if permitted in writing by the Chief Electoral Officer
I'm a student living at university. Where do I vote?
See the section Student Voting.
How long does the election period last?
Not less than 30 days from the date of the writ.
Who is my Returning Officer?
I won't be here for election day. Can I still vote?
I am living in a women's shelter and don't want my location to be known. How can I vote?
We certainly respect your circumstances. You can still vote on election day. You will have to complete a Certificate to Vote. You can also vote at any Returning Office, Advance Poll , or by Write-in Ballot.
Where do I vote?
Check your Voter Information Card, which you should receive in the mail about two weeks after an election is called. If you have not received one, contact your local Returning Officer.
Is my vote secret?
Can anyone come behind the voting screen with me?
Yes. If you require assistance casting your vote you can have someone come behind the screen with you. Also, parents may bring a child with them to have them become familiar with the process.
Can homeless people vote?
Yes. Click here for more information.
Can prisoners vote?
A. Yes. They must vote by write-in ballot. See Incarcerated Voters..
I was told my employer has to give me three hours off to vote. Is that true?
Yes and no. You are entitled to have three consecutive hours available to vote while the polls are open on election day, but the time you take must respect your employer's needs.
Is there any leeway in voting after 8:00 pm on election day?
The Deputy Returning Officer at the polling station will take note of how many people are still waiting to vote at 8:00pm. The polls may stay open until these people have voted. Anyone arriving after 8:00pm cannot vote.
What is a mobile polling station?
If required, a separate polling division is created for one or more long-term care facilities. A Returning Officer can establish a mobile polling station which is like a "traveling polling station" which goes to each facility for no less than 3 hours to allow voting by electors at the facilities.
Vote Safely – COVID-19 Precautions for the 41 Provincial General Election
Is it safe to go vote?
Elections Nova Scotia is taking every precaution to make voting safe for all Nova Scotians. This includes offering many different voting options, such as early voting and voting by mail using a write-in ballot. Strict COVID-19 protocols will be in place at all voting locations.
Can I still vote in-person?
Yes. In-person voting is available at your local Returning Office after the election is called, during Advance Polls, and on Election Day. Before Election Day, you can vote at any voting location or returning office across the province. Strict COVID-19 protocols will be in place at all voting locations.
What if I don’t feel safe voting in person?
Voters can apply to vote by mail using a write-in ballot, so that they can vote remotely. The application for a write-in ballot can be found on the Elections Nova Scotia website or they can call their Returning Office for assistance.
What do I need to bring with me to vote?
Please bring your identification (with your name and civic address), your Voter Information Card (VIC) if you have received it, a mask, and a pen.
Do I need to wear a mask to vote?
Elections Nova Scotia is asking all voters to wear a mask while inside the voting location and while in line to vote.
How do I vote remotely?
Voters can apply for a write-in ballot, so that they can vote by mail. The application for a write-in ballot can be found on the Elections Nova Scotia website, or they can call their Returning Office for assistance.
They can ask a neighbour, family member, care giver, or friend to act as their agent to assist them to apply for a write-in ballot to vote by mail.
Voters can also make an appointment through their Returning Office for a team to visit their home and assist them with voting by write-in ballot.
The deadlines to apply for a write-in ballot application and to return completed write-in ballot kits either by mail or in-person can be found on your Voter Information Card (VIC) or the Elections Nova Scotia website.
What measures are you taking to protect voters at the polls?
Strict COVID-19 protocols will be in place at all voting locations. Voters will be asked to sanitize their hands at entrances and exits, and to wear a mask when they go to vote. Election workers will also wear masks while inside the voting location, and there will be a tabletop shield between the voter and the election worker. Physical distancing will also be enforced at voting locations, and frequently used surfaces will be disinfected between every voter interaction. Voters are also asked to bring their own pen when they vote.
What does “Vote Safely” mean?
“Vote Safely” refers to Elections Nova Scotia encouraging all voters to follow the Public Health precautions that are in place at voting locations. This means wearing a mask, sanitizing your hands, practicing physical distancing, and voting early to flatten the curve or applying to vote by mail. Voters are also encouraged to bring their own pen when voting.
What will my voting location look like during COVID-19?
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all election workers will be wearing masks at voting locations. Hand sanitizer will be available for voters to use when entering and exiting the voting location. There will be signage to help direct voters and to indicate where to stand to maintain physical distancing requirements. Polling stations will be also be physically distanced, as will election workers. There will be a tabletop shield between the voter and the election worker. There will also be additional election workers assigned to disinfect stations between every voter interaction. Voters are also asked to bring their own pen to use when voting.
How often will you be cleaning/disinfecting the voting location?
Polling stations and the voting screen table will be disinfected between every voter interaction, or every five minutes during periods of low usage. Other high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs will be disinfected every five minutes.
Can I still vote if I have COVID-19/symptoms?
Elections Nova Scotia encourages all Nova Scotians to consider early voting options, such as applying voting by mail using a write-in ballot to flatten the curve and lower risk of community spread during Advance Polls and especially on Election Day.
I have a medical exemption from wearing a mask, can I still vote?
It is recommended that Nova Scotians wear a mask when going to vote in person, however you may vote without one. If you forget your mask when you go to vote, one will be offered to you upon arrival at the voting location. If you are not able to wear a mask you may want to consider applying for a write-in ballot so you can vote by mail.
Will it take longer to vote during COVID-19?
Because of increased cleaning requirements at the polls, it might take longer for individuals to cast their ballot. One possible way to shorten the time it takes you to vote is to vote early during Advance Polls or at your Returning Office any time after the election has been called (excluding Sundays). Before election day, voters in Nova Scotia can vote at any returning office or early voting location in any electoral district.
How big is the risk of community spread during the election?
Elections Nova Scotia is following all Public Health guidelines to make it as safe as possible to vote. Strict COVID-19 protocols will be in place at all voting locations.
Can I vote by mail if I’m not traveling, sick, or otherwise unable to go in person?
Yes, all voters may apply to vote by mail using a write-in ballot. Voters can access the application for a write-in ballot on the Elections Nova Scotia website or by contacting their local Returning Office.
What can I do to be safe at the polls?
Wear a mask, physically distance from election workers and other voters, sanitize your hands when you enter and leave the voting location, bring your own pen, and listen for instruction from election workers onsite at your voting location.
Can I still bring my kid(s) with me when I vote?
Elections Nova Scotia encourages children to observe democracy at work by accompanying their parents when they go to vote. However, during a pandemic, leaving children with a caretaker may be the safest option to avoid exposing them to COVID-19. Elections Nova Scotia recognizes this might not be realistic for all parents/guardians, and will welcome children who go with their parents to the polls this general election.
Parents who are worried about possible exposure when going to vote may want to consider voting early at a Returning Office or Advance Poll, to avoid long lines, or avoid lines completely by applying for a write-in ballot so they can vote by mail.
My relative is in the high-risk category for COVID-19, how can they vote? Can I help them vote?
Election Day is usually the busiest voting day of the election period. Less busy voting alternatives are to vote at a Returning Office or during Advance polls in person before Election Day, or to apply to vote by mail using a write-in ballot. Please contact your returning officer or visit the Elections Nova Scotia website for more information about how to apply for a write-in ballot and the associated deadlines to vote by mail.
A neighbour, family member, care giver, or friend can act as an agent for another voter in applying for a write-in ballot to vote by mail.
Can I cast my vote online, like in the municipal election?
Elections Nova Scotia does not have the legislative authority to conduct online voting at this time. You can vote remotely by mail using a write-in ballot. Please contact your returning officer or visit the Elections Nova Scotia website for more information about how to apply for a write-in ballot and the associated deadlines to vote by mail.
What measures will be in place to protect election workers?
Strict COVID-19 protocols will be in place at all voting locations. Election workers will wear masks while inside the voting location, and there will be a tabletop shield between the voter and the election worker. Physical distancing will also be enforced at voting locations, and frequently used surfaces will be disinfected between every voter interaction. Workers will also have access to hand sanitizer at their station. Election workers will minimize hand-to-hand contact with electors by touching their documents (i.e. Voter Information Card (VIC), IDs, etc.) as little as possible.
Candidates and Parties FAQ
Can a candidate have more than one official agent?
No. Section 168(2) of the Elections Act contemplates more than one official agent for a party but no equivalent provision is in the Elections Act for candidates. Section 170 - 171 of the Act speaks in terms of one person having this responsibility.
What is a registered party?
A registered party is a political party which has been registered by the Chief Electoral Officer under section 180 of the Elections Act.
How many registered political parties are there in Nova Scotia?
There are 5 registered political parties in Nova Scotia:
Atlantica Party Association of Nova Scotia
Green Party of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Liberal Party
Nova Scotia New Democratic Party
The Progressive Conservative Association of Nova Scotia
Political Contributions FAQ
May I make a donation to a political party in Nova Scotia?
Yes, an individual resident in Nova Scotia may make a political contribution to a party, a candidate or an electoral district association. Organizations (corporations, partnerships, unions, etc.) may not.
Is there a limit on the amount I can contribute?
Yes, an individual can contribute a maximum of $5,000 annually to each registered party, its candidates or its electoral district associations.
Can corporations, partnerships and trade unions make political contributions?
No, only an individual resident in Nova Scotia can make political contributions.
Why is there a limit on contributions I can make when none previously existed?
In 2007, public funding for registered political parties was introduced. At the same time a limit on contributions and rules about who can contribute were established.
Can a political contribution be made in cash?
Yes, however cash contributions are restricted to a maximum of $100.
Who may accept a political contribution?
Only the official agent of the recognized party, candidate or electoral district association may accept a political contribution.
Can I loan money to a recognized party, candidate or electoral district?
Yes, however you need to be aware of a number of rules regarding loans. The most important is that a loan that is not repaid is deemed to be a political contribution and subject to the $5,000 annual contribution limit.
What if I contribute more than $5,000 annually?
The law makes it your responsibility not to contribute more than allowed. The law prohibits registered political parties, candidates or electoral district associations from accepting contributions that exceed the limits.
Where do I find the law on political contributions?
Public Funding FAQ
Do political parties receive public funding in Nova Scotia?
Yes, registered parties do.
What levels of public funding do political parties receive?
Nova Scotia Election Information
Does Nova Scotia have fixed election dates?
No. The government can call an election at any time by passing an Order in Council calling an election. Election day is always on a Tuesday, not less than 30 days from the date of the writ.
What is the maximum time a government can hold office?
The House of Assembly can continue for five years with an extra 40 days after the issuing of the writs for a general election.
How many Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are there in Nova Scotia?
Currently there are 51 elected MLAs in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly; one from each of the 51 electoral districts as determined by the 2012 Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission.
In the fall of 2019, House of Assembly legislated 55 electoral district boundaries as recommended by the Electoral Boundaries Commission. These 55 new district boundaries come into force for the next provincial general election (41st). Any by-elections taking place prior to the 41st provincial general election will be based on the previous 51 electoral district boundaries defined in 2012.
What is an Electoral District?
An electoral district, often called a riding or constituency, is a geographical area whose residents are represented by one member in the House of Assembly. Electoral district boundaries are set out in the House of Assembly Act.
Who is my MLA?
The current members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly were elected on these 51 boundaries as defined by the 2012 Boundaries Commission. Follow this link to find your MLA and current electoral district in the 51 electoral boundaries.
Follow this link to find your electoral district for the 41st Provincial General Election in the new 55 electoral districts as defined on 2019.
Is my MLA still my MLA during an election?
Technically, no. The passing of the Order in Council calling the general election dissolves the House of Assembly. If there is no House, there can be no members. The Executive Council (Cabinet) remains intact.
What is the difference between a by-election and an election?
A by-election is held in just one particular electoral district to fill a vacancy in the House of Assembly because a member has resigned, been expelled, or died. An election, also called a general election, is held in all electoral districts at the same time.
Why do we have a List of Electors?
Qualified electors in Nova Scotia are entitled to one vote each. By maintaining a List of Electors we can ensure votes are being cast fairly. It also helps us prepare statistics that tell how many eligible Nova Scotians are voting. And the List speeds up and simplifies the voting process for voters at the polls.
How is the List of Electors maintained?
We update it using many different sources. On an ongoing basis, Elections Nova Scotia selectively uses data from a number of sources including the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Vital Statistics, the Nova Scotia Civic Address File, Elections Canada, municipal elections and field work done by Returning Officers and Elections Nova Scotia staff. Many electors contact our office directly to be registered on the List. During enumeration we go physically from door-to-door to update the List.
Is my information on the List of Electors kept private?
Yes. Personal information on the List of Electors is only used for election purposes.
When was the last general election in Nova Scotia? How many have there been?
Nova Scotia has had 40 general elections. The most recent was on May 30, 2017.
Can politicians advertise when no election has been called?
Yes. The Elections Act does not prohibit advertising outside an election period. However, all forms of advertising are subject to the rule that every advertisement relating to an election that promotes or opposes any candidate or recognized party shall bear the words "authorized by the official agent for [name of candidate or recognized party]" and must indicate on whose behalf the advertisement was published.
Are there any rules governing the political activities of federal public service employees?
The Public Service Employment Act, provides a new regime for governing the political activities of federal public servants. The Act recognizes the need to balance the principle of an impartial federal public service with the rights of public service employees to engage in political activities. For more information, please visit: http://www.psc-cfp.gc.ca/plac-acpl/index-eng.htm or contact the Public Service Commission of Canada's Political Activities Directorate at 1-866-707-7152, by facsimile at 613-995-7699 or by email at email@example.com
Are there any rules governing the political activities of provincial public service employees?
Please refer to the Political Activity Rights of Nova Scotia Government Employees issued by the Nova Scotia Public Service Commission.