Nova Scotia

N.S. voter turnout spikes at advance polls

Voter turnout at advance polls last weekend nearly doubled from the last federal election.

Nova Scotia saw a 75 per cent increase in voter turnout at advance federal election polls last weekend.

That was almost double the national increase.

Elections Canada says about 66,053 votes were cast in the province on Friday, Saturday and Monday, up from 37,782 in advance polls in 2008.

Nationally, voter turnout was up 34 per cent. Elections Canada says the numbers are preliminary estimates.

Tom Urbaniak, a political scientist at Cape Breton University, said a spike in turnout often points to a polarizing election, though he isn't sure that's the case here.

He said it helped that the early polls were held on a holiday weekend.

"There was a lot of controversy whether the polls should have been held on the Easter holiday weekend, and I think that controversy reminded people [of an election]," he said. "One knows that sometimes when families gather they will talk about public affairs."

Urbaniak said the early numbers don't necessarily mean a bigger turnout on election day on May 2.

Voter turnout hit an all-time low in 2008, with only 58.8 per cent of eligible Canadians casting a ballot.

If the numbers on election day are still low, Urbaniak said there could be a push  to hold the main voting day on a weekend.