Voters are heading to the polls today to vote in the Kent byelection and will elect the first MLA outside of the Graham family since 1967.

The seat became vacant when former premier Shawn Graham resigned his seat in February following the release of a conflict-of-interest report into his handling of the Atcon file.

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant is trying to hold the seat for his party.

Jimmy Bourque is running for the Progressive Conservatives and Susan Levi-Peters is trying to be the first NDP MLA since Elizabeth Weir resigned in 2005.

The polls will close at 8 p.m.

The byelection remained low key in the four weeks.

Bourque faced questions over whether he was in a conflict of interest because his company received provincial funds while he was a political assistant for the Alward government. He also faced a group of about 50 anti-shale gas protesters outside of his office during a rally.

Elections New Brunswick reported that strong numbers of voters turned out during the advance polls.

Mike Quinn, the province’s chief electoral officer, said last week more than 1,300 people voted in the advance polls and 109 people voted at the local returning office.

The Progressive Conservatives have 41 seats in the legislature, the Liberals have 12 MLAs and there is one independent.

Traditional Liberal stronghold

Kent is considered a Liberal stronghold. Graham won the seat in a 1998 byelection following his father Alan's retirement, which ended his political career that started in the riding in 1967.

If Gallant wins the long-time Liberal seat, he would join Premier David Alward as the only other party leader with a seat in the legislature.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy lost his bid for a seat in the legislature last year during the Rothesay byelection.

Green Leader David Coon has not tried to run in a byelection.

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin placed third in the riding of Grand Lake-Gagetown in the 2010 provincial election and he has not tried to win a seat in any of the byelections.

The Greens and the People’s Alliance did not run candidates in the Kent byelection.