Elections Nova Scotia

Elections Act Amendments

On February 21, 2020, legislative amendments to the Elections Act were tabled in the House of Assembly in Bill 225. The amendments to the Elections Act made by Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2020 received Royal Assent during the spring 2020 session of the House of Assembly and were proclaimed on May 6, 2021.

Legislative Amendments

In the spring 2020 legislative session, government passed Bill 225, that implemented most of the legislative changes that the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) recommended following the 40th Provincial General Election. Bill 225 passed and received Royal Assent in March 2020. The amendments to the Elections Act made by Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2020 were proclaimed in effect on May 6, 2021.

These amendments represent the next steps in electoral reform and will modernize and improve the administration of provincial elections in Nova Scotia. The chart below provides additional detail regarding each provision.

Provisions in Bill
Change What Does It Do?
Election advertising is no longer be restricted within 60 metres of a voting location or returning office Loosens a restriction on political advertising.
The HQ of a registered party, candidate, or candidate’s agent is no longer restricted from being within 60 metres of a returning office. Loosens a restriction on locations used in an election. Note: Candidates need the agreement of the CEO for their HQ to be in the same building as a returning office.
The CEO will communicate candidate withdrawals or the withdrawal of party endorsement after the close of nominations. The CEO may update the ballots in some cases. Reduces voter confusion and to clarify what is on the ballot.
The CEO may introduce internet voting for members of the Armed Forces stationed outside of NS during an election. Allows the CEO to introduce more technology options into the voting process and makes it easier for members of the Armed Forces out of NS to vote. (Referred to as e-Voting, internet voting)
The CEO may introduce the use of technology to support the voting process at early voting opportunities. Allows the CEO to use technology to streamline the voting process for electors at the early voting polls. (Referred to as e-Ballots, or digital ballots). This makes it easier and faster to count the ballots used at early voting and reduces delays in reporting the election results at close of polls on Election Day.
Removed the requirement that two witnesses/observers be present before starting the counting of ballots for any poll. Allows counting to proceed when observers are not available.
Removed the redundant step of checking the voter’s identity twice. Makes it easier and faster to count ballots.
Removed the requirement that the notice of election and the grant of poll be published in a newspaper. Allows the CEO flexibility to use social media and other media to announce elections, to reach more people and be more cost effective.
The maximum number of voters assigned to each polling division will be at the discretion of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) with consideration given to travel time standards. Allows the CEO flexibility to align polling divisions to standardize the travel time of voters to their voting location and improve voting traffic flow.
Pilot projects (including an e-poll book solution) will be allowed after presenting the details to the Election Commission, considering their feedback, and receiving unanimous consent of the Commission. Makes it easier for Elections Nova Scotia to innovate and be responsive to new advancements in election procedures, equipment or technology.
Declined ballots will be reported in the Official Results. Affords more transparency in the reporting of votes cast.
Voters or their representatives can no longer apply for a correction to their information orally and must do so in writing. Increases integrity and security of the voting process by limiting opportunity for voter fraud through identity theft.
Removed the requirement that the CEO must request lists of election officers from the candidate of the registered parties that came in first and second in the previous election. Allows returning officer to have more flexibility in staffing decisions and speeds up staffing process.
Removed the requirement that voters must provide their “sex” when making applications for the Register or List of Voters. Affords more privacy to voters and make provision of this information optional.
An applicant applying for a recount must provide specific justification to the Justice. Specific justifications are that: a Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) has improperly counted any ballot or improperly rejected any ballot or made an incorrect statement of the number of ballots cast for any candidate; or the RO has improperly tabulated the votes; or where the court has determined there may be other grounds to justify a recount. Brings Nova Scotia in line with standards adopted by other Canadian and provincial electoral jurisdictions.
Provides funding for candidates who incur additional costs during the writ period for disability expenses, childcare, elder care, or spousal care. Lowers the financial barriers to becoming a candidate for those who care for a child, spouse or relative or those who are disabled.
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