Nova Scotia

Pushing to increase voter turnout in the middle of a pandemic

Trying to promote democracy during a pandemic has pushed more Nova Scotia politicians and voters to use online platforms ahead of the October municipal elections.

Groups turn to online platforms ahead of October municipal elections in Nova Scotia

A polling location in Halifax is shown in 2016. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

Trying to promote democracy during a pandemic has pushed more Nova Scotia politicians and voters to use online platforms ahead of the October municipal elections.

In north Dartmouth, the citizen's advocacy group North Grove has relaunched its Speak Up Show Up campaign to increase voter turnout.

The campaign was first held for the 2016 municipal election and voter turnout at polls in north Dartmouth, which is part of municipal District 6 in the Halifax Regional Municipality, tripled from 2.7 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

This time around organizers will be doing some in-person presentations outside and putting more information on Facebook and YouTube.

"We've worked really hard over the last four years to ensure the people in our community had a voice," said Tammy Shields, a community action co-ordinator with North Grove, "and we're going to work just as hard to not let the pandemic quiet that voice."

North Grove will host a Zoom question period on Oct. 2 for the candidates running in District 6.

Putting a name to a face

In Annapolis County, Stephen Raftery wants to help the voters in the municipality where 30 candidates are running in 11 districts, including two that are acclaimed.

Raftery has a background in municipal administration and lives in Bridgetown, but is not involved in any election campaign. He has set up a website so voters can find information on all of the candidates in one place.

"So they can put a face to a name and get some background information," said Raftery. "And then over the five weeks of the campaign I'll be sending out one or two questions each week and [the answers] will get added to the candidates' page."

Raftery is also trying to organize an online forum for the candidates in the two districts that represent Bridgetown.

Meanwhile, the three people running for mayor in the Halifax region will take part in a forum that will be presented live on Facebook and YouTube on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

One of the organizers thinks the online event could reach a lot more people than a traditional debate, and audience reaction will be allowed.

"We're going to enable comments, so they will be happening live as well," said Paul MacKinnon, with the Downtown Halifax Business Commission. "That will be live and unfiltered."

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