Elections Nova Scotia

How Can I Vote

There are many options for voting in Nova Scotia provincial elections.

It’s Easy to Vote in Nova Scotia Provincial Elections

Under the Elections Act, there are many options for where and when you may vote in Nova Scotia provincial elections. For example, during an election, you may vote on any day of the week except Sundays.

Voting locations are selected based on accessibility and availability and therefore usually have level access for wheelchairs, tools and services to assist those who have vision or hearing difficulties. If you have a disability and need assistance in voting, check with your returning office once an election is called to make arrangements. In the rare event that your assigned voting location does not have the facilities you need, they will transfer you to one that does.

Voting Options

During a provincial election, most Nova Scotians will vote via one of the following methods. Below is a simple chart explaining returning office, advance poll, election day, and write-in ballot voting.

Voting Option Where? What Day? What Time?
Returning Office Continuous Poll Anywhere in NS* Monday to Saturday, once an election is called 9am – 6pm
(Thursday and Friday before election day: 9am – 8pm)
Advance Poll Anywhere in NS Saturday to Saturday before election day
(except Sunday)
9am – 6pm
(Thursday and Friday before election day: 9am – 8pm)
Election Day Poll Assigned depending on residence Election day
(declared when the writs of election are issued)
8am – 8pm
Write-in Ballot At home Anytime before 8pm on election day** Ballot kit must be received by Elections Nova Scotia by 8pm on election night

*Vote Anywhere ends the Saturday before election day. After that, voters can only vote at their local returning office or their assigned election day voting location, if they wish to vote in person.

**There are multiple ways to vote by write-in ballot including by mail and home visit, with different deadlines for each. Please read the sections below for more deadlines.

For more voting options and information, please see the sections below.

Vote at a Returning Office

You can vote early at the returning office in your electoral district or any returning office (up to and including the Saturday before election day) in the province every day except Sundays. All returning offices are also open with extended hours on the Thursday and Friday night before election day.

On the Monday before and on election day, you can vote at the returning office in your electoral district.

Vote at an Advance Poll

For those who wish to vote early, Elections Nova Scotia sets aside seven days of advance polls. You may vote at any advance poll in the province. The advance polls are open on Saturday to Saturday (closed Sunday) immediately before election day, with extended hours on the Thursday and Friday night.

To find out where your advance poll is in your electoral district, check the Voter Information Card you receive in the mail, or during an election visit the Elections Nova Scotia website or contact us by phone.

Apply to Vote with a Write-in Ballot

All eligible voters can apply to vote using a write-in ballot. Voting by write-in ballot is safe and easy!

You can vote with a write-in ballot many different ways including:

  • by mail
  • by agent
  • in person
  • by home visit team

It is important for voters to understand the deadlines to apply for a write-in ballot and when and how to return their completed write-in ballot kit. All write-in ballots must be returned by 8pm on election day to be counted. Voters are asked to please allow adequate time so their write-in ballot can be returned.

Click here to learn more about voting using a write-in ballot.

By Agent

You can have a trusted friend or family member who is 18 years or older act as your agent. They can assist you in applying for your write-in ballot and can help to return it for you. To find out more about a write-in ballot agent, please call the returning office in your electoral district once an election is called.

By Home Visit

Once an election is called, you can make an appointment through your local returning office for a write-in ballot team to visit you at home to help you vote. Write-in ballot voting is conducted every day except Sunday during hours the returning office is open.

Vote In-person on Election Day at Your Assigned Voting Location

You can vote in-person on election day, always a Tuesday, from 8am to 8pm. There are three ways to find out where your assigned voting location is during an election:

  1. check the Voter Information Card you receive in the mail,
  2. enter your postal code or address in the Where Do I Vote? application on Elections Nova Scotia’s website (available once an election is called), or
  3. phone Elections Nova Scotia toll free at 1 800 565 1504 or TTY 1 866 774 7074

Vote in Residential Centres

All returning officers make arrangements for visits on election day to seniors’ residences, long-term care facilities and other institutions with ten or more resident electors.

If you live in a residential centre with fewer than ten residents, your local returning officer will make arrangements with the administrator for a team to visit the facility to assist you to vote by write-in ballot before election day.

Contact the administrator of your facility for more information on the date and time.

Vote when you live at a Shelter or are Homeless

If you are temporarily staying in shelter and/or need the protection of anonymity, contact Elections Nova Scotia or your local returning office for assistance. You will be able to vote with the assistance of a write-in ballot team and your name and location will be held in confidence.

If you are homeless with no permanent residence, the Elections Act provides that the place where you sleep at registration time – a shelter, hostel or other place that provides food, lodging or social services – may be considered your residence. When an election is called, returning officers will contact the administrators of shelters to inform residents that, if they wish to vote, they may use the shelter as their “place of residence” if they are otherwise qualified as electors. A poster at the shelter will have the location of the appropriate polling locations. When registering to vote, you will be required to complete an application to be added to the list of electors and will be asked for identification with your name and signature.

Vote at University or Community College

If you are a post-secondary student living in Nova Scotia, like other Nova Scotian voters you are entitled to vote in the electoral district in which your principal residence is located. Since many college and university students have two residences - one when at school, and one when not at school - students must choose one or the other as principal residence for the purposes of Nova Scotia provincial elections. You can then vote on election day, at the advance polls, at any returning office, or by mail using a write-in ballot. Follow this link for more information on student voting.

Vote in Hospital

If you are temporarily in hospital during a Nova Scotia provincial election, you can vote by write-in ballot. Once an election is called, contact your local returning office for more information about hospital voting.

Military Voters Posted Outside Nova Scotia

Qualified Nova Scotia voters, who are away on duty aboard ship, at a Canadian Forces base in Canada, or serving out of country when a provincial election is called, may vote by write-in ballot. Although the timelines for voting are tight, plans are in place to assist serving members in meeting them.

During a provincial general election, Elections Nova Scotia will contact the Judge Advocate General’s office which will send a message to all units of the Canadian Forces to inform them of the election, the eligibility requirements for voting, and the process for write-in ballot.

During a by-election, Elections Nova Scotia advertises within the province to alert friends and relatives to advise eligible members of the Canadian Forces to apply for a write-in ballot after an election is called and the key dates for applying and returning their ballot.

For voting purposes, if the serving member of the Canadian Forces has lived in Nova Scotia at least six months and intends to return at the end of their duty, their residence is their current Nova Scotia address or failing that, the place they declared in their Canadian Forces Statement of Ordinary Residence. The mailing address for the purpose of receiving a write-in ballot kit is the address of the ship or base where the elector is posted.

Incarcerated Nova Scotian Electors Inside and Outside Nova Scotia

Once an election is called, Elections Nova Scotia provides liaison officers at each provincial and federal correctional facility with brochures and write-in ballot application forms to distribute to eligible electors held in the facility.

Elections Nova Scotia receives and reviews the application forms to determine whether the elector is qualified to vote and to confirm the elector’s electoral district. If approval criteria are met, Elections Nova Scotia will issue a write-in ballot kit for the elector and arrange expedient delivery to the correctional facility liaison officer in the correctional facility where the elector resides.

The elector will vote using the write-in ballot and the liaison officer will return the ballot to Elections Nova Scotia. Once received, the ballot is sent to the appropriate returning office where it will be counted on election day.

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