YARMOUTH - With the option of continuous voting in this year’s provincial election, voters have already started.
Oct. 8 provincial election.
At just after 10 a.m. Tuesday, five votes had already been cast at the returning office in the constituency of Yarmouth.
None of them for the NDP though. The NDP has yet to register a candidate for the riding.
According to Elections Nova Scotia, there are still seven ridings in which there is not an NDP candidate. The Progressive Conservatives have not yet fielded candidates in four ridings. The Liberals have a full slate and there is one independent registered.
Continuous voting is one of the changes Elections Nova Scotia has instituted since the last general election.
During normal open hours at any returning office from now until election day, voters can cast their ballots. If they expect to be away from their riding through the election period, they can vote out of their district in any returning office.
Arrangements have been made to accommodate the homeless, the acutely ill and the house-bound. Elections Nova Scotia is providing outreach to communities of first nation voters. Never has more effort been put into providing voters with the opportunity to exercise their vote.
Except when it comes to electronic voting.
Electronic voting is gaining acceptance from segments of the voting public across Canada, but don’t look for it to come to a provincial or federal election in the near future.
Dana Doiron, Elections Nova Scotia’s director of policy and communications, says that it would require legislative amendment of the Elections Act to enable electronic voting. There appears to be little appetite for making those changes around the board table at the Election Commission of Nova Scotia, which provides advice to the province’s chief electoral officer on these matters.
In a recent report to Elections Nova Scotia, the commission acknowledged that “most would agree that online voting is consistent with our increasingly online society.”
However, the commission concluded, “The basic questions of how to maintain the security, validity, and integrity of our elections has not yet, in our opinion, been satisfactorily answered. Until credible answers to these questions are available, and until functioning, transparent Internet and telephone voting systems have been demonstrated and proven, extreme caution and prudence is required.”
In the 2012 municipal elections, 15 of the province’s 54 municipal units conducted some form of electronic voting. Potentially, 65 per cent of the province’s electorate (including voters whose representatives were acclaimed) had the opportunity to vote electronically.
In 2009 voter turnout in the general election was 58 per cent.