Dana Doiron

Dana Doiron, the director of policy and communications at Elections Nova Scotia, said more than 7,000 residents have cast their ballots in early voting. (CBC)

Elections Nova Scotia says more than 7,000 residents have already voted ahead of the provincial election, set to take place two weeks from now on Oct. 8.

The organization announced new rules for voting this year to try to increase voter turnout, which was just 58 per cent in the last provincial election in 2009.

"The main reason for these changes is to remove obstacles that people found as difficulties between them and voting," said Dana Doiron, the director of policy and communications at Elections Nova Scotia.

"There's no way that we can actually, through facilities, help people to decide to vote if they didn't want to vote. But if you want to vote, we want to make sure that you have that opportunity."

Nova Scotia is using continuous polling in this election — a first for a provincial election in Canada. That means voters are able to vote every day of the campaign except Sundays by using a write-in ballot at any returning office, open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Elections Nova Scotia workers are also taking write-in ballots to residents of homeless shelters, hospitals and nursing homes with more than 10 beds. There are mail-in ballots for eligible voters who are in jail and special polls will be set up at universities and colleges.

Doiron said while no additional workers have been hired, the cost of the provincial election could hit $9.2 million — compared with the last provincial election that cost $7.4 million

"We've also had an increase in the amount that election workers are paid on election day and the days leading up to the election," Doiron said.

"The largest part of the election expense is the reimbursement of candidates' expenses and while we can't be sure of how much that is — there is a cap. Things are more expensive, they may be spending more money on advertising than they have in the past and we've made a provision for that."

Doiron said while voting has never been easier, a higher turnout is not guaranteed.

The 7,000 people who have already cast their ballots account for just one per cent of the eligible voters in Nova Scotia.

"I'm one of these people, they're just so fed up that I don't vote. I might as well admit it," said Bob Dookshire.

"If I do see somebody that has some ideas and that I think is going to be truthful about those ideas, I'll start voting again. But I haven't seen anybody yet."