Nova Scotia·Nova Scotia Votes

How to vote in the 2021 Nova Scotia election

There are several ways to vote in the upcoming provincial general election and Elections Nova Scotia says COVID-19 precautions will be in place.

COVID-19 protocols will be in place at voting locations and an option to vote by mail is available

Elections Nova Scotia says these tabletop shields will be in place for any interactions between staff and voters (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The COVID-19 pandemic means that voting in the provincial general election could look a bit different this year. Elections Nova Scotia is predicting more people will choose to vote early in person or make use of write-in ballots. 

Who can vote?

Anyone who has lived in Nova Scotia since Jan. 17, 2021, and who is a Canadian citizen 18 and older by election day on Aug. 17, 2021, is eligible to cast a ballot.

Voting options

There are several options available to voters in the province.

Under the Elections Act, Nova Scotians may vote during an election on any day of the week except Sunday. 

Returning offices are open for voting in each riding Monday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. AT.

On the Thursday and Friday before the election — Aug. 12 and Aug. 13 — they will stay open until 8 p.m. AT.

On election day, they will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. AT. 

Voters casting ballots before election day can vote at any returning office in the province. On election day, voters can go to the returning office in their electoral district.

Advance polls

Advance polls will also be open for seven days of voting immediately before the election, beginning Saturday, Aug. 7.

They will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 8 and reopen on Monday, Aug. 9 until Saturday, Aug. 15.

Hours will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. AT, except for Thursday and Friday when advance polls will stay open until 8 p.m. AT.

Write-in ballots

All eligible voters in Nova Scotia have the option of voting by write-in ballot. 

The ballot can be downloaded online or a ballot kit can be sent to the voter. 

Once a write-in ballot kit has been issued, in-person voting is no longer possible.

The mail-in deadline for write-in votes is 6 p.m. AT on Saturday, Aug. 7. 

People submitting their write-in ballot in person or via an agent outside of their voting district must return the ballot by 6 p.m. AT on Saturday, Aug. 14.

If the write-in ballot is being submitted in the person's voting district, the deadline is 3 p.m. AT on election day: Tuesday, Aug. 17. 

On election day

The option to vote in person on election day is also available to people who were not already issued a write-in ballot. 

Special circumstances

People who are homeless, people in residential facilities or in hospital, military personnel, and people who are incarcerated have an opportunity to vote in the provincial general election. 

Returning officers arrange visits on election day to seniors' residences and long-term care facilities housing more than 10 people. 

In facilities housing fewer than 10 people, arrangements will be made with the administrator for a team to help residents complete write-in ballots.

People living in shelters or who are homeless and qualified as electors may name a shelter as their place of residence.

Posters at shelters will show the location of polling stations for those wanting to vote in person. When registering to vote, a form must be completed and the applicant will be asked for identification with their name and signature. 

Students living in a college or university residence must choose either their home or the school as their principal residence. 

People in hospital and military personnel who are out of the province on duty may vote by write-in ballot.

For people who are incarcerated inside or outside the province, Elections Nova Scotia will review their applications for a write-in ballot to determine their eligibility to vote. If eligible, arrangements will be made for their write-in vote to be sent to the appropriate returning office.

Where to vote?

If you're unsure of where you should cast your ballot, look up your address on the Elections Nova Scotia website to find your designated polling station. 

There are other ways to find out where to vote:

  • Check your voter information card if you received one in the mail.
  • Call Elections Nova Scotia at 800-565-1504 to get help.
  • Call your local returning office to find out where to vote. 

COVID-19 protocols will be in effect at all polling places and voters are asked to follow instructions and directional signs. 

What do you need to bring?

Ideally, bring your voter information card and a piece of government-issued identification that has your name, photo and address, such as a driver's licence.

A driver's licence on its own will suffice, but it will just take a little longer to vote.

You could also bring two documents that show your name, including one that also has your address. Examples of acceptable documents are your voter information card, health card, a social insurance card or a telephone or power bill.

If you don't have the proper documentation, you can take an oath to say who you are and where you live.

A pencil will be issued to each voter for marking their ballot, but Elections Nova Scotia is suggesting that people have their own pen with them in case they need to fill out a form.