Is the public engaged in the Nova Scotia election?
Published Friday, May 12, 2017 7:09PM ADT
Last Updated Saturday, May 13, 2017 3:00PM ADT
With the campaign trail nearing its halfway point, opinions are mixed as to whether Nova Scotians are really paying attention.
“I'm not sure that everybody actually knows that there is an election even happening right now,” says Sean Rogers of Halifax.
“You hear it around the water coolers, things like that, people are certainly talking about politics,” says fellow Halifax resident Neil Finckle.
Opinions on the street are also fractured when it comes to the issues, perhaps a reflection of the party announcements which have ranged in topic from health care to tuition, public education to infrastructure, and from minimum wage to the film industry.
So far, just over 4,300 people have cast a ballot out of about 750,000 eligible voters. Voting is open each Monday to Saturday at returning stations across the province until May 27, and all day May 30.
Political sociologist Howard Ramos says Nova Scotians don't seem very engaged so far.
“If people don't show up to vote it probably is going to favour the incumbent party, the Liberals,” says Ramos. “If people do show up to vote, it could get really interesting.”
In 2013, just over 419,000 people cast a ballot out of more than 709,000 who could have. That's a voter turnout of 59 per cent.
“From my perspective and the small area in which I live, people are engaged but I would like to see more of it,” said Nova Scotian Bonnie Coulombe.
Some say it's time for a new idea to get people involved.
“Like Australia, you have to vote or you get fined. Turnout's about 80, 90 per cent,” says Harry Mathers.
Many residents suggest fixed election dates may increase engagement during the campaign because people will know it’s coming. Jamie Baillie and Gary Burrill both say they'll legislate fixed election dates, but Stephen McNeil says that's not part of the Liberal plan.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.