Election within 8 months, as referendum period officially begins Feb. 1

P.E.I.'s referendum period will begin Feb. 1 — which means a provincial election will be held within the next eight months.

Last day an election can be called is Sept. 3

An election must be held on P.E.I. by Oct. 1. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

P.E.I.'s referendum period will begin Feb. 1 — which means a provincial election will be held within the next eight months, by Oct.1. 

An order from the province's executive council, or cabinet, was issued Thursday for the referendum period to begin. 

The referendum will allow Islanders to vote on whether they want to switch from first past the post to a mixed member proportional election system. 

The referendum is being held the same day as the province's next election.

Sept. 3 last day for election call 

All parties have been prepping for an election this year by nominating candidates. Spring or fall elections are most common. Summer is less likely because of the busy farming, fishing and tourism seasons. 

What we know is the writ period, or the time between when an election is called and must be held, is 28 to 32 days — so the last day an election can be called is Sept. 3.

"From the beginning of this process in 2015 the important objectives have been to have strong participation by Islanders in response to a clear question about their electoral future," said Premier Wade MacLauchlan in a written release Thursday.

"I encourage all Islanders to participate in this referendum process and have their say."

The referendum results are binding on government only if more than 50 per cent of voters vote the same way on the question and in at least 60 per cent of electoral districts, more than 50 per cent vote the same way, according to the legislation. 

During the referendum period, there are strict limits on spending, advertising and contributions by individuals and groups.  

Anyone interested in being a registered referendum advertiser must apply to the referendum commissioner's office by Feb. 11. Those approved can share in $75,000 of public money available to each side, if they apply for a share of the funds by Feb. 15. 

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