Excellent turnout on first day of advanced voting in Halifax municipal election
HALIFAX -- The clock is ticking in this year's municipal election.
With 10 days to go, candidates are getting creative with their campaigns.
"It's a whole new world," said Jessica Quillan, a candidate in District 4 in Dartmouth."Iam very much a person that likes to handshake, hug people, not being able to do that especially after I've had a great conversation with them is difficult."
Along with her presence on social media, Quillan held a meet-and-greet at a local coffee shop, and she's made it a priority to knock-on-doors while following COVID-19 protocols, but says it can be a challenge.
"People are working from home during this time," she said. "Their car may be in the driveway they can't answer the door or they answer the door with their head set on, because they're on a Skype meeting. I've even run into someone who was watching a funeral online."
In District 3, Vishal Bhardwaj believes in-person canvassing is always the best way to win votes -- but due to COVID-19 he had to put safety first and make tough decisions.
"There are many challenges," Bhardwaj said. "Number one, we have a large senior population in our riding and a lot of apartment buildings, so I made the conscious decision not to go in any, I don't want to put anyone at risk."
Online and telephone advanced polls opened in the Halifax Regional Municipality yesterday and so far voter turnout is on the rise.
The municipality says it's likely due to the pandemic and the number of new candidates on ballots this year.
A spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality says 18,000 people voted early on Tuesday as compared to 8,800 on the first day in 2016.
District 2 candidate Tim Milligan of Lake Echo says 2016 turnout in his district was only 34 per cent and that's "incredibly low."
Milligan wants to see more ballots casts this year and says he will host a Facebook live town hall on Monday to interact with voters virtually.
He's also spent a lot of time knocking on doors in rural parts of the district, like Ecum Secum and Sheet Harbour.
"That's one of the issues in our area, the internet access," Milligan said. "I know the provincial government has rolled out a plan to get us up to speed, but if you can get out to the doorsteps they definitely love seeing you for sure."
Telephone and electronic voting will run until Oct. 14. After that, voters can cast their ballots in-person on the 10th, the 13th, or on election day which is Oct. 17th.