Nova Scotia

N.S. municipal elections 'safe' to go ahead this October, minister decides

Nova Scotia's municipal elections will be held this fall, despite concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak.

Municipalities urged to continue preparations for October elections with current public health protocols

Chuck Porter, the minister for municipal affairs, says physical distancing should be enforced at polling stations. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Nova Scotia's municipal elections will be held this fall, despite concerns about how the COVID-19 outbreak will impact campaigns and voting.

On Wednesday, Chuck Porter, the minister for municipal affairs, confirmed the Oct. 17 elections will happen in a letter to the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities.

The federation had asked him to consider delaying the elections, but he said the votes would go ahead.

"If we delay elections beyond October, there will be thousands of Nova Scotians who will not have a representative at the table when those councils make important decisions about the future of their communities," he wrote.

Porter said it won't be a typical election.

"Because the situation continues to be unpredictable, I encourage municipalities to continue their preparations for an October election with the current public health protocols in mind," Porter wrote.

People wait in line to vote in a Democratic presidential primary election in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020, while practising physical distancing. (Kamil Krzacynski/AFP via Getty Images)

"I am confident municipalities can hold safe and democratic elections that conform with public health directives, if necessary."

He said that could mean encouraging citizens to vote by mail, telephone, computer or advance polling. He said physical distancing should be enforced at polling stations.

"Encourage candidates and their teams to use signs, printed materials, telephone, social media or virtual options to engage with constituents, rather than canvassing door to door," Porter wrote.

Pam Mood, the president of the federation and Yarmouth's mayor, had asked for guidance in April. She said they had to consider moving the elections due to the pandemic.

"It is hard for me to imagine an election running smoothly this October," she said in April.

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