By Eric Bourque
Election day for municipal governments and school boards in Nova Scotia is still more than seven weeks off, but a significant date in this year’s electoral process is just two weeks away.
That will be Tuesday, Sept. 11 – nomination day – the deadline for candidates to register for this year’s election. The cutoff for people to register as candidates for 2012 is 5 p.m. on that date. Candidates can begin filing their nominations, by appointment, a week prior to Sept. 11.
Candidates are given one more day, after the cutoff date, to decide for sure if they want to run and so, up until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, they will have the option of withdrawing their nomination.
“So it’s really only the end of the day on the 12th that we would know exactly who’s going to be running because people (can) change their mind,” said Mike Durkee, returning officer for the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth.
Nomination day is the same date – Sept. 11 – for all of Nova Scotia’s municipal units.
For people who are thinking of running in this year’s election and who perhaps are looking for information on what they need to do, Durkee says they should start by reading the candidate’s guide, which can be found on the Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations website (or on the municipality’s website).
“The first thing they should look at is that,” Durkee said. “That will give them all the information they’ll need if they’re considering running. It’s a PDF document so they can download it to their computer and they can just read it at their leisure and then, if they are seriously considering running, they should come in to the municipal office and pick up the candidate’s package.”
The package includes forms the candidates need to fill out. The process of becoming a candidate includes getting at least five people to nominate you.
“Once that’s all done and once the candidate’s forms are filled out … then they would make an appointment to come in to see me,” Durkee said.
It’s the same process for all municipal units in the province. Locally, for example, the three Yarmouth-area units have taken out newspaper advertisements noting that candidates can file their nominations on Sept. 11 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at their respective municipal offices or that they can do so, by appointment, during the week leading up to nomination day.
Election day is Saturday, Oct. 20. The Municipality of Yarmouth will have a paper ballot. The Town of Yarmouth and the Municipality of Argyle are going with electronic voting, whereby residents will vote by telephone or computer.
Vi Carmichael, municipal elections officer with Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, says 16 municipal units are using e-voting this year, at least to some degree.
“It’s the way of the future, I guess,” she said, “so it will be interesting to see how they make out.”
Her department’s role includes training the people who will serve as returning officers.
“We usually conduct training in April and May, every four years, where the returning officers come together in various locations throughout the province and we review the process and we develop the calendar,” she said. “We just serve to kind of guide and support and help them through the process, really, and each and every municipality conducts their own election.”