HALIFAX -- Junior Barnes wasn't planning to vote Tuesday, but after speaking with us outside a returning office, he decided to go for it.

"I've made a decision, and the decision is to vote on the party that will give me what I need -- or not me, but everybody," Barnes said.

Helen Skidmore hasn't voted yet, but is planning to soon, noting she knows who she's voting for.

David Murphy is still undecided.

"A lot of times politicians will make decisions and you want to be absolutely sure they are going to do what they deliver on," Murphy said.

So far, more than 20,000 Nova Scotians have cast early ballots — nearly three times as many as at this point in the last provincial election in 2017. The early voting count is a sum of the ballots cast at returning offices, community polls, and the applications made for write-in ballots -- some of which may not be sent in, but once a person applies for one, it is added to the tally.

"Because more people are voting early doesn't mean that there will be necessarily a greater overall voter turnout, it just means they're coming out earlier in the election period," said Naomi Shelton with Elections Nova Scotia.

But she does believe the numbers show Nova Scotians are receiving their message to vote safe and vote early. Up until the Saturday before Election day, which is Tuesday Aug. 17, voters can vote at any returning office in the province.

Aug. 7 is the last day someone can apply online for a write-in ballot.

WRITE-IN BALLOT APPLICATION DEADLINES

The deadline to apply on-line or by mail for a write-in ballot is Saturday, Aug. 7 at 6 p.m.

The deadlines to apply for a write-in ballot in person or by agent are as follows:

  • Saturday, Aug. 14 – 6 p.m. (out of district)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 17 – 3 p.m. (in district)                              

All write-in ballot kits must be returned before the close of voting on election day to be counted.

New Brunswick was the first Canadian province to hold an election since the pandemic began. More than half of the 376,903 ballots cast happened before Election Day through special ballots or advanced polls.

"Much like our counterparts in Nova Scotia, we took the approach of promoting and encouraging electors to take advantage of early voting opportunities," said Paul Harpelle with Elections New Brunswick.

A message that's being echoed in Nova Scotia and the early voting numbers appear to show that it's being heard.