Elections Nova Scotia Glossary of Terms
Advance polls are held for seven days from Saturday to Saturday (excluding Sunday) immediately before the election day. Advance poll hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, with extended hours to 8:00 pm on the Thursday and Friday.
Electors may choose to vote at any advance poll in the province.
An election held in a single electoral district to fill a vacancy in the House of Assembly. Provincial by-elections might be held in a district if the sitting MLA resigns, is expelled, or dies before their term ends.
A person who is running to be elected in an electoral district. Candidates can be independent or represent a registered political party.
Chief Electoral Officer
This is the head person at Elections Nova Scotia. The Chief Electoral Officer has the responsibility for ensuring all elections are fair and impartial and are conducted in accordance with the various acts that regulate elections.
Contributions (including Political Contributions)
Persons ordinarily resident in Nova Scotia may donate (contribute) a maximum of $5,000 annually to a registered party and all candidates and electoral district associations of that registered party. Corporations, unions and partnerships may not make political contributions in Nova Scotia.
Deputy Returning Officer
The returning officer for each electoral district will appoint a deputy returning officer (DRO) to administer the returning officer's duties at election day polling stations.
Persons hired during the election for the purpose of supporting and conducting electoral processes in election day, advance, community and returning office polls, as well as returning office and election headquarter support functions.
Interested in working the next provincial election? Read more here or access training modules for continuous poll workers or election day workers.
Elector vs. Voter
Elector: someone who is eligible to vote. To be an elector in Nova Scotia elections, you have to be 18 years or older as of election day, a Canadian citizen, and have resided in Nova Scotia for six months or more prior to the date of the writ.
Voter: an elector who has voted.
Nova Scotia is divided into 55 electoral districts (often shortened to “districts”), sometimes also called constituencies.
Follow this link to find your electoral district.
List of Electors
Also called the voters’ list. This is a list of all those people who are qualified to vote and have registered to vote in an electoral district. The List is sorted by polling division.
The process of preparing or updating the List of Electors for an upcoming election. This process includes going door-to-door, particularly in areas of high mobility and new residential areas, to ensure every person eligible to vote is on the List.
Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)
A person elected in his or her electoral district to a seat in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.
A document that must be filed with the returning officer before a person can run as a candidate in an election. The deadline for filing is 2:00 pm on the 20th day before election day.
This count of the ballots is performed by the returning officer in the presence of the election clerk, and the candidates or their agents. After this count, the returning officer declares which candidate is elected.
Order in Council
The passing of this order starts the election process.
This is where you live. This address will determine your electoral district and polling station where you vote. Also known as your civic address.
A vote on one specific issue or question.
Electoral districts are subdivided into polling divisions. Each polling division usually includes 250-450 electors.
Polling Station (or Voting Location)
These are the sites where the ballot boxes are set up so you can cast your vote. Sometimes also called voting locations.
This is the first count taken of the ballots as soon as the polls close. The count is performed by the deputy returning officer in front of those persons entitled to witness the count. The results are then telephoned to the returning officer. These results are considered unofficial until the Official Addition.
The leader of the registered political party that wins the most seats in a general election.
A group of individuals whose primary purpose is the fielding of candidates for election as members of the House of Assembly. Also called a political party or registered political party.
There are currently five 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
- Progressive Conservative Association of Nova Scotia
Candidates who receive a minimum of 10 per cent of the vote are eligible for partial reimbursement of their election expenses. Each candidate’s nomination deposit will be returned if the candidate files an audited (if the election expenses are greater than $500) report of election expenses before the deadline and destroys all list of elector information. A subsidy is available for audit fees paid by a candidate.
The Chief Electoral Officer appoints one returning officer for each of the 55 electoral districts in Nova Scotia after a merit-based competition. The returning officer is normally appointed for ten years and is responsible for the conduct of elections in their electoral district.
The scrutineer represents a candidate at the polling station and observes the voting and the counting of ballots. Scrutineers are sometimes also called witnesses.
A ballot must be marked in a certain way to count in Nova Scotia. Ballots that have an X, check mark, or line beside more than one candidate, are not clear as to which candidate has been chosen, or are defaced in any other way are considered spoiled and are not counted.
Voter Information Card (VIC)
The card sent to each elector on the List of Electors explaining where to vote and giving information on voting opportunities. Voter Information Cards are often shortened to the acronym “VIC”.
Follow this link for more information on how to get on or update your information on the List of Electors.
A writ is a written command in the name of the government. When referring to elections, the writ means the command to hold an election. The date of the writ is the date the election was called.
This blank ballot and series of envelopes designed to protect the secrecy of the vote allows you to cast your vote remotely or before advance polls. A write-in ballot can be completed in the returning office, at a campus poll or community poll, at home, mailed in or returned in person or by your agent. You must apply to vote by write-in ballot and, once you have done so, you must complete your vote using this ballot.
Follow this link to learn more about applying for a write-in ballot and the associated deadlines.