Concerns over voter turnout ahead of Nova Scotia municipal Election Day
Published Friday, October 14, 2016 9:15PM ADT
People across Nova Scotia are headed to the polls to vote for mayors, wardens, councillors and school board members on Saturday.
But if the past is any indication, most people won't vote. Turnout in municipal elections is historically very low, and the numbers from advance polls and e-voting suggest this year won't be any different.
The current mayor of the Halifax Regional Muncipality says provincial and federal elections have bigger turnouts because of political parties.
"You’ve got campaigns that drag people out; you have electoral associations that exist between elections, whose purpose is to get ready for elections,” says HRM Mayor Mike Savage.
Retiring Councillor Gloria McCluskey, once the mayor of the city of Dartmouth, says she's baffled by low voter turnout.
"All that big, big budget we have, and yet they're not interested enough to get involved and vote, to have a say in how their money is spent,” says McCluskey.
McCluskey says municipal government is the most accessible level of government, a place where individuals can take up a cause and make something happen.
Many believe the key to increasing turnout is to start young.
On Friday, students at Saint Joseph's-Alexander McKay elementary school in Halifax participated in a voting exercise.
"I’ve been learning about the election, how you can enter, your rights, and laws, when you can vote. A whole bunch of stuff like that," says grade six student Shadan Hansen.
"It is important because it's where you live, and you have a right to vote, and you can make a change in the world," says another grade six student, Yared Hailemariam.
Students had candidates come to speak to them, and were questioned on their positions on many issues.
"So what teachers tell us is that kids commonly return to school feeling more informed than their parents, even educating their parents on who to vote for," says Taylor Gunn of CIVIXCharity.
The real challenge remains getting citizens of legal age to vote.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ron Shaw.