Election Nova Scotia revamps ways to vote
Voters will be able to vote on all but four days in the next campaign
In a bid to increase voter turnout, Elections Nova Scotia is increasing the number of days people will be able to cast their ballot in the next general election.
"You'll be able to vote on almost any day during the four weeks before Election Day," said Dana Doiron, director of policy and communications at Elections Nova Scotia.
Voters will be able to vote on all but four days in the next campaign, not just in the advance and special polls and on election day.
It’s one of many changes Elections Nova Scotia is implementing.
There will now be polling stations in hospitals, shelters, prisons and nursing homes.
"Those people who are shut-ins or find it difficult to leave their home can even request to have the ballot brought to them and a team will take that ballot and they'll vote at home," said Doiron.
The changes come in the face of declining voter turnout in the last few elections. In 2009 just 58 per cent of eligible people found time to vote.
Wiping out excuses
Doiron said some of the measures are targeted at young people.
Only a quarter of people under the age of 25 voted in the last election.
"Students at the universities and community college will be able to vote right on campus and that will make it a lot easier for them and students have always said that they found it difficult to vote because they would have to go where they live and not on campus where they spend most of their lives. So we're going to be where they are, and allow them, no matter where they live, to be able to vote right on campus," he said.
Elections Nova Scotia said the idea is to remove as many barriers as possible.
"I applaud them for doing those sorts of things, I think it's helpful to make it as convenient as possible," said Corporate Research Associates CEO Don Mills.
"But more than anything else, people need to feel that their vote makes a difference. I think that ultimately that's what's needed. I think that people don't feel that their vote makes any difference in terms of the quality of government that they get."
While voter turnout may not increase as a result of these changes, Doiron says there will be fewer and fewer excuses for people not to vote.
Students support changes
The new changes are being applauded by students at Halifax's universities.
Alix Shield said she didn't vote in the last election.
"I just didn't have time, so this should probably be helpful," she said. "We don't necessarily have time to skip a class and to go off and vote. For me, personally, I think that hte stations on campus will remind me that I should be doing this."
Keith Oland likes that the changes will now make voting more accessible.
"I would have voted regardless," he said. "But I feel like young people don't get as much say as we should in the election process."
Premier Darrell Dexter is expected to drop the writ sometime this year.